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WWE Tried To Get Other Bidders to Partner Against Endeavor Offer

“The WWE drew considerable interest from the time it was put up for sale, with more than 60 counterparties exploring a potential acquisition.”

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Last week, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) divulged over 500 pages of files pertaining to its ongoing acquisition by Endeavor Group Holdings, Inc. and plan to merge with the United Fighting Championship to form a publicly traded company. Nick Khan, chief executive officer of the WWE, released a letter to stockholders regarding the transaction and the automatic conversion of WWE common stock shares.

It also revealed that WWE executive chairman Vince McMahon owned shares equivalent to approximately 81% of the voting power, and that a condition of the deal with Endeavor was that McMahon would have to remain with the company. McMahon resigned from the WWE last July during investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct, but returned to the company this past January. For now, the publicly traded company is known as New Whale, Inc.; however, it was revealed that the name will be changed at some point in the future.

The WWE drew considerable interest from the time it was put up for sale, with more than 60 counterparties exploring a potential acquisition. Some of these entities included strategic companies, sovereign wealth funds and financial sponsors, and they all explored buying and/or merging with the company. Twenty of the 60 counterparties inked confidentiality agreements pertaining to the transaction process in February and March, including Endeavor. The first proposal from Endeavor was made the day the confidentiality agreement was signed – Feb. 7, 2023 – a merger where it would own 57% of the WWE, a total valuation of $9.3 billion.

Additionally, the WWE received three proposals from entities who wanted to purchase the entire company, with one proposal valuing each share of the company between $95 and $100, but they all required some form of outside financing. Conversely, the Endeavor offer valued shares at $105.98 apiece, and, as a result, the WWE board tried to have two of the three aforementioned entities partner with one another to bid against Endeavor.

Later in March, McMahon and Khan met with Endeavor executives Ari Emanuel and Mark Shapiro where a proposal by the WWE was made giving Endeavor 51% ownership. The deal was ultimately completed when McMahon agreed to remain with the company as its executive chairman. During the weekend of Wrestlemania, the deal was officially finalized when the senior management and board signed off on it after being informed by its financial team that the Endeavor deal was conducive to the time frame.

Several WWE executives will receive compensation upon the completion of the Endeavor deal, including McMahon ($16 million) and Khan ($72 million). The deal will cultivate a $21 billion sports entertainment company with “global reach, impressive scale and omnichannel distribution.”

In fiscal year 2022, WWE and UFC generated a combined $2.4 billion in revenue, a 10% annual revenue growth rate since 2019. Emanuel will serve as the CEO, McMahon will be the executive chairman of the board and Shapiro will be the president and chief operating officer. Khan and Dana White will both remain as presidents of WWE and UFC, respectively. The new property will also hold about $150 million in cash to be contributed by the WWE and UFC, and also presumably be responsible for negotiating new media rights deals for both properties in the near future. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2023.

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Sports Media Reacts to Charles Barkley Retirement Announcement

“We’re looking forward to another fantastic NBA on TNT season and further discussion of our future plans with him.”

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Screengrab from Charles Barkley on Club Shay Shay
Screengrab: Club Shay Shay on YouTube

Charles Barkley said on NBA TV after Game 4 of the NBA Finals that he will retire from television after next season, no matter what happens with TNT and the league. Near the conclusion of the NBA TV postgame show, Barkley said:

“There’s been a lot of noise the last few months and I just want to say, I’ve talked to all of the other networks, but I ain’t going nowhere other than TNT, but I have made the decision myself, no matter what happens, next year is going to be my last year on television. And I just want to say thank you to my NBA family, you guys have been great to me, my heart is full with joy and gratitude.”

Barkley went on to say that he wants to turn the baton over to someone like Jamal Crawford or Vince Carter should Inside the NBA continue with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal.

TNT put out a statement that said, “Charles is a Hall of Famer and broadcasting icon who is and will always be a beloved member of the TNT Sports family. We’re looking forward to another fantastic NBA on TNT season and further discussion of our future plans with him.”

Several in sports media took to social media to post about their thoughts on Barkley’s career with TNT or wondering if Barkley’s ‘retirement’ is real:

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Charles Barkley Announces He Will Retire From TV After Next Season

“Next year, I am just going to retire after 25 years, and I just wanted to say thank you and I wanted y’all to hear it from me first.”

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Screenbrad from NBA TV with Charles Barkley
Screengrab: NBA TV

Charles Barkley is not waiting. After voicing his frustration several times with the way the media rights negotiations have been handled by his current employer, Warner Bros. Discovery/TNT, Barkley is no longer waiting for them to make a decision, he has announced his own decision.

After Game 4 of the NBA Finals concluded between the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics, Barkley took time on the postgame show on NBA TV to announce no matter what happens, he will retire as an NBA commentator after next season, which will be his 25th with TNT.

“I’ve been thinking guys,” Barkley said “I want to say this, because you guys are my family. I really love TNT, all the people who work here, NBA Television. You guys have been great to me for 24 years and I just want to say thank you to my entire NBA family. I love you guys.

“There’s been a lot of noise the last few months and I just want to say, I’ve talked to all of the other networks, but I ain’t going nowhere other than TNT, but I have made the decision myself, no matter what happens, next year is going to be my last year on television. And I just want to say thank you to my NBA family, you guys have been great to me, my heart is full with joy and gratitude.

“But I am going to pass the baton at the end of next year. I hope the NBA stays with TNT, but for me personally, I wanted you guys to hear it from me, because I am not doing any more interviews, don’t y’all be calling me, nobody calling me, I am not talking about this again. But I wanted to tell my NBA TV and TNT family that I am not going to another network, but I am going to pass the baton to either Jamal Crawford, Vince Carter or you Steve [Smith]. Next year, I am just going to retire after 25 years, and I just wanted to say thank you and I wanted y’all to hear it from me first.”

The NBA’s current media rights agreements with Disney/ESPN and WBD/TNT expire after next season. Many reports have said the NBA will soon sign agreements with Disney, NBCUniversal and Amazon to be the league’s new broadcasting partners beginning with the 2025-26 season. The Wall Street Journal has reported the total value of the new media rights packages is expected to be $76 billion over 11 years.

Rumors of a possible fourth media package being made in order for the NBA to keep its 40-year relationship with Turner Sports going have surfaced, but it looks like either way there will be changes coming to Inside the NBA, the award-winning show Barkley is a part of along with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal.

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FOX Sports Moving UFL Games to Friday Nights in 2025

“The regular season average television audience of 816,000 was more than 30% higher than the pace from the previous year.”

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FOX Sports CEO Eric Shanks recently confirmed a report from Deadline last month that said United Football League games would move to Friday nights in 2025. The Deadline report had said FOX planned to replace WWE Smackdown with sports coverage from college football and basketball as well as games from the UFL.

Shanks’ comments were made during a Zoom with reporters about the news of their new agreement with the NTT IndyCar Series. SI’s Mike Mitchell reported that the UFL worked with FOX to move the games so they could complete their auto racing deal.

Shanks said many of FOX’s UFL games would be moved to Friday night when asked about the change but did not provide more detail.

The UFL was split between FOX and ABC/ESPN this season. The regular season average television audience of 816,000 was more than 30% higher than the pace from the previous year and the recent conference championship games were up 57% over the averages from the USFL and XFL last season. According to Mitchell, the league saw a large increase in the 18-49 demographic on FOX compared to USFL programming in 2023.

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