WWE News: Vince McMahon on the WWE Network, Smackdown moving, increasing pay-per-view price, launching a separate talent roster in Europe, Stephanie McMahon on the Raw guest hosts and NXT (video footage available)

Apr 30, 2010 - 03:53 PM

By Jason Powell

Vince McMahon was among the executives to address the WWE shareholders at the annual shareholders meeting on Friday. The following are among the highlights. You can check out the full shareholders meeting at

-Vince opened by saying, "I guess the net result is that we did okay last year and we hope to do better this year," which led to a lot of laughs.

-Vince on pay-per-view: "We're communal. Unlike boxing or one-off attractions, whereby you are very likely to watch that at home... you could watch that by yourself at home... and you could do that with WWE... we find that every year there are WrestleMania parties." He said this increases the number of people watching, while cutting back on the overall buys. Vince joked that they want to make people realize their neighbors don't love them and they should watch by themselves.

-Vince on pay-per-view rates increasing: "We believe that what's happening here is the communal aspect of our brand is such that we need to do these things." Essentially, he said they are trying to offset the cost of more than one person getting together to watch the same pay-per-view broadcast.

-A shareholder brought up the idea of having a separate roster for the European market. Vince said it would be costly to develop another roster and a production crew, and he said he felt there was a chance that the European fans would still want the regular version of the product. He said it's possible that in 10 years they may have to do something like that since there are only so many dates the wrestlers can work.

-Vince called a very pregnant Stephanie McMahon and executive vice president of marketing Michelle Wilson up to address the shareholders. Wilson announced that WWE will have a huge presence in a campaign with 7-11. Plus, there will be a marketing campaign with Burger King that will feature Undertaker, Triple H, and John Cena toys.

-Stephanie praised the guest host concept. She said the hosts have fun playing in front of thousands of people and get promotional value out of their appearances. She noted that WWE is bigger than the late night shows and Saturday Night Live. "We really are what's cool to do in Hollywood right now, which can only help our image and brand building," Stephanie said.

-Stephanie also discussed the NXT brand. She noted that it was previously ECW. She stated that they are featuring the stars from their developmental territory FCW. She said it's exciting to see how the future stars perform with the spotlight on them.

-Vince on a WWE Network: Vince said they are seeking distribution for their network. He said it will give them a chance to do more programming, "not just in-ring programming." He stressed that it's not just an in-ring concept. He said it would compliment what they are doing on the current television shows. Vince said it would provide them with leverage in negotiations with the networks for their existing programming.

-A shareholder noted that WWE Films has been a costly experiment. Vince said only one film has been a failure, while the others have been profitable. He said they really hadn't been in the film business before. He said they may not be hitting home runs, but they are hitting good doubles and singles.

-A shareholder asked about the shift to younger talent. Vince said it's important to reinvent yourself. He said the audience always demands a new and improved WWE. He said John Laurinaitis, Kevin Dunn, and Stephanie have done an excellent job with the NXT series, and he joked that they haven't suffered an injuries yet.

-Vince on the future of NXT: "We're talking to the distributors now about the possibility of staying on Syfy or moving it..." Vince said. "It's not as though it's going to disappear, but it might move to another network."

-Vince on Smackdown: Vince said they have a great relationship with MyNetwork TV, but the preemptions were a major issue. He said one of the advantages of having Smackdown on Syfy is that it and USA Network are owned by Universal, so they can do a better job of directly promoting the shows.

-Vince on whether he'll return to the ring. "No, I don't intend to be back in the ring," Vince said. "Then again, I never intend to be in the ring and somehow it happens. There are absolutely no plans whatsoever for me to get back in the ring right now. We are hopeful that won't happen."

-A shareholder asked about the makeup of the average WWE fan in terms of educational background, etc. "It's broad based," Vince said. He noted that they have more female viewers than they've had in the past. He said that's encouraging because they tend to determine whether children are allowed to watch the show.

-Vince closed the session by thanking the shareholders for coming. He also praised the management team by saying it's the best team they've ever had in place.

Powell's POV: It sounds like Vince believes there's a chance that NXT could remain on Syfy. He and Stephanie praised the show enough that I no longer believe there's a chance it will go away when Smackdown debuts on Syfy in October. I wonder what show they are watching, though, because I'm bored by NXT more often than not.

The WWE Network still sounds like a work in progress. All the talk about the network featuring programming that doesn't take place inside the ring is scary, but I guess we'll have to wait and see what they have in mind.

Vince claiming WWE fans watching in groups rather than individually was comical in the sense that he made it sounds like it doesn't happen for boxing or other pay-per-view events nearly as much as it does for WWE. This is just a guess, but I'll bet more people watch UFC in groups than WWE if only because it's available in more bars and on Saturday nights when people are probably more likely to have parties.

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