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Eric Bischoff – ‘The Rock Joining TKO Board Of Directors Feels Authentic & Organic’

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On a recent edition of his “83 Weeks” podcast, WWE Hall of Famer Eric Bischoff discussed Netflix acquiring the media rights to WWE RAW, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson joining the TKO Board Of Directors, and more.

You can check out some highlights from the podcast below:

On where WWE RAW will air in late 2024 between USA Network and Netflix deals: “Best guess, yes, Peacock. Where else is there? I mean, there may be other options and alternatives that we’re just not aware of because we’re not in the day-to-day business and talking to folks. But just from where I’m sitting right now, that just seems to be the most obvious choice by default. If nothing else, I mean, Peacock could be happy, right? Why not? It’s good for them. It would serve as WWE’s interim challenge. And it sets people up to get used to watching Raw from streaming, I guess. Who knows? But that’s to me, the only obvious choice. Either that or they go dark and kind of take the approach of Brian Badal and me for WCW when we were in the process of trying to acquire it, and just take that. Because that’s a tough time anyway, right? You got the Christmas holidays in there, and ratings are typically soft leading into Christmas, or they’re challenging. Maybe they might opt to go dark and just build anticipation. You know, the absence makes the heart grow fonder, and they get even more tuned in than they might otherwise. So that’s also an option.”

On whether it was time to move Raw from traditional cable TV to streaming: “I think it’s one of those half-glass full, half-glass empty perspectives. I absolutely agree with everything you said, it was 100% accurate. But I’ll just add a little bit to that. I think McMahon is going guns blazing [with the WWE Network], which is his style, right? Just no compromise. ‘We’re gonna go after it. We’re going to have our own network.’ It may not have lived up to his vision or the vision of others who are involved in it. But it without a doubt paved the way for last Monday’s announcement. It absolutely paved the way for last Monday’s announcement. And look, things change. Technology evolves. When technologies evolve, opportunities evolve with them. Everything changes, and in entertainment, it changes fairly rapidly. So what was true back when Vince McMahon decided to go guns blazing into his own OTT over-the-top network, when he decided to throw all eggs in that basket and dispense with George [Barrios] and Michelle [Wilson]? He may not have been right in 2024. But he was right when he made that decision because it led to what we read about last Monday at this time.”

On whether WWE Raw going to Netflix will lead to AEW or TNA going to streaming: “I don’t know if you remember this. I do for whatever reason, but back when before AEW was announced that it was going to be on TNT, originally there was a rumor, there was speculation, and you and I were doing a show. It’s been that long now, five and a half years or whatever it was, you and I were doing a show. And you asked me about AEW on TNT or Turner Networks. And my comment at the time, I’m paraphrasing myself here because I don’t have it memorized. But it was basically, ‘If I were Tony Khan’ This is before I ever met Tony or even had an opinion about him, whatever. I said, ‘If I was Tony Khan, I had his resources, I would be building my own streaming platform. I would put my resources where the business is going, I would not put my resources where the business is dying.’ In television, even five years ago, the handwriting was on the wall. Streaming is going to become a bigger thing. And the bigger it gets, the smaller cable is going to get. So I hope so. You know, Tony certainly has the resources. I’m not sure where Impact is financially or what their goals are. And I don’t know where Tony is or what his goals are. But I do know the man has a lot of money.”

On The Rock joining TKO Board of Directors: “I guess I wasn’t surprised, because it just felt authentic and organic. By authentic, I mean it seemed like the natural course of evolution Rock has become in the entertainment industry. He is one of the biggest names, if not the biggest, in terms of his success in films and television. And when you’re putting together a board, you want to be kind of a best-of-breed, right? You want the best you can find in various categories that apply to your your business model, you know? And for someone like Rock who has had so much success outside of wrestling, but it all started with his success inside of wrestling. His feel, and this is the part that I’m gonna — I had a conversation earlier today, and I can’t go into it too deep. If I sound like I’m dancing around certain things, it’s because I am out of respect for the conversation of the people in it. But everything that we’ve been talking about up until this moment, it’s all been WWE. ‘How’s this gonna affect WWE? How’s it going to affect the wrestling business?’ The decision for Netflix to acquire the rights for Raw at the astronomical number that we’ve been discussing not only affects WWE, but it also Netflix’s other business units. Think about this: five years, ten years, there was a certain amount of money probably projected that Netflix is going to spend on original movies original content, right? 5 billion of that was taken off the table. That affects their original content. There are people that will be leaving Netflix at some point this year. Their jobs were all about creating original content.

“So this deal is so big. And when you think about it from that context, having someone like Rock who is now the face of the company, who has a gigantic footprint in film. Less so in television outside of wrestling, but really in film. I think WWE is going to need that next step into mainstream entertainment. And I think having Rock on your board, given his experience. He certainly doesn’t have Nick Khan experience, he certainly doesn’t have Ari Emanuel experience, but Rock brings wrestling experience to the table. Because Ari Emanuel and Nick Khan are brand new at this game. They don’t understand the audience. They can read the research, they can make decisions and have judgments and opinions based on what others tell them. But they have not been in the trenches. Rock has, as well as having been in the trenches outside of wrestling. So I think Rock is far more valuable than what meets the eye as it relates to that board. He’s going to, I think – I hate to say this, it’s a bad joke — he’s going to be a rock of stability, if you will, on that board. Because he does bring an element of experience that nobody else on that board has.”

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