- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Flipboard
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Tumblr
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
The WWE may be enduring serious corporate drama, but it’s certainly not showing it in its day-to-day business.
The sports entertainment company is bringing its signature event, WrestleMania 39, to Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium in April, and according to WWE senior vp and head of global sales and partnerships Craig Stimmel, the company’s sponsorship revenue is already 43 percent higher than it was for the entirety of WrestleMania 38. Another source familiar with the numbers says sponsorship revenue currently stands at between $14 million-$15 million, which will be a new record for the event.
It’s a substantial boost for the company’s bottom line as it begins a critical period, not only with WrestleMania coming up, but with the company exploring strategic alternatives (including a possible sale) ahead of new media rights negotiations. And while media rights (the two main TV and streaming partners are NBCUniversal — which airs Raw and other content on USA Network and the WWE signature events like WrestleMania on Peacock — and Fox) remain the single biggest driver of the company’s business, live events and sponsorship revenue have been on the rise in recent years. The early results from this year’s WrestleMania suggest that will continue.
“We’re tracking exactly where we want to be going into the events,” Stimmel says. “We’ve also got a diverse set of sponsorships coming in … we’ve got snacks, we have beverages, among others. So it’s a really nice diverse portfolio of brands that are joining in a myriad of ways.”
And while WrestleMania’s two-night event will stream live on Peacock, the WWE is hoping to make the programming around the big show ubiquitous.
“When you think about putting WrestleMania on, we’re going to be showing across millions of households on Peacock, we’re also going to have a social presence. We’re also going to have a post-match press conference that’s going to be sponsored this year — you saw that with Mountain Dew and Royal Rumble — but we’re going to have that again at WrestleMania,” Stimmel says. “It’s on YouTube and on TikTok and on Facebook, so we’re gonna have a myriad of opportunities to tell a brand story across different spectrums with different voices. So I think when we approach brands, we want to make sure that that holistic picture is in place. We’re looking for that audience overlap.”
And a critical piece of the sponsorship puzzle for the WWE in recent years has been brand integrations. At the Royal Rumble last week, there was a “Mountain Dew Pitch Black Match” which took place in (near) darkness, and Stimmel suggests that there will be “surprises” at WrestleMania as well, specifically calling out a new sponsor, Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
“I don’t want to give away too much, but it’ll be around a match, and the sponsorship of that match, and what they’ll be able to bring to that match,” he says. “So we’re going to do things that fit inside of our storyline as well.”
Other sponsors this year include Pepsi, Take-Two and Mars/Snickers.
The WWE is also holding the event as it seeks to figure out its future as a stand-alone company. Former CEO Vince McMahon returned as executive chairman earlier this year after retiring last year amid a misconduct probe. After returning, he and the company began the process of exploring strategic alternatives, which could include a sale of the company. His daughter Stephanie McMahon, who had been co-CEO alongside Nick Khan, resigned, leaving Khan as the company’s sole CEO.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day