Brandon Thurston reviews the recent events that led up to WWE's decision to cut costs and lay off or furlough workers, as well as the recent closure and bankruptcy of Vince McMahon's XFL.
May 2018: WWE discloses it received a minority stake in Alpha Entertainment related to XFL IP transaction with Alpha.
Dec 2017, Nov 2018, Mar 2019: Vince McMahon sells a total of $379.7 million in WWE shares, most if not all, to fund the XFL/Alpha Entertainment
Feb 6: Vince McMahon on Q4 earnings call takes XFL questions
March 10: Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System drops lawsuit against WWE
March 11: NBA suspends season
March 12: Smackdown proceeds in the PC with no audience
March 12: XFL suspends 2020 regular season
March 12: WWE statement on potential impact of COVID19
-WWE withdraws its earlier Q1 guidance, due to COVID19.
-WWE acknowledges it may be forced to cancel events, Wrestlemania not mentioned specifically.
-WWE doesn’t estimate the potential impact at this time.
-WWE has cash & debt capacity of $500 million.
"The company had guided 2020 adjusted OIBDA of $250M-$300M and contractual revenue growth of about $185M. For Q1, it had forecast OIBDA of $60M-$65M (a fivefold year-over-year increase)."
March 16: Trump issues stay-home guidelines. “Some say July or August”.
March 16: WWE announces Wrestlemania will not take place in Tampa, will instead take place at the PC.
March 24: Vince McMahon puts 3.5 million of his WWE shares into prepaid forward contract with Morgan Stanley
March 26: Wrestlemania taping concludes. News breaks Roman Reigns pulls out of Wrestlemania match with Goldberg.
March 31: WWE and Sony finalize renewed India TV deal
March 31: Fox and FITE announce they’ll offer WWE as a PPV. Fox to broadcast 22 hours of WWE library.
April 1: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issues state-wide stay-at-home order
April 4: Trump holds call with leaders of sports organizations, including Vince McMahon and Dana White.
April 5: WWE sends internal memo from Paul Levesque that a WWE employee had tested positive for COVID-19
Fightful reported and confirmed with WWE on April 11
April 7: WWE announces its Q1 earnings report and conference call will be April 23 after market close.
April 9: WWE announces it adjourns annual meeting due to COVID19.
April 9: America First Action PAC Announces $26.6M Investment in Battleground States
$18.5 million for Florida: $7.2mm in Tampa, $11.3mm in Orlando markets.
April 9: Gov. DeSantis amends stay-home order
Pro sports were added to a list of essential businesses allowed to stay open in an April 9 memorandum to include “employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience … only if the location is closed to the general public.”
April 10: XFL lays off most employees, suspends operations.
April 10: The Revival are released from WWE.
April 10: Vince McMahon decides to return to taping Raw, Smackdown and NXT live every week going forward, beginning with Smackdown on this night.
Meltzer reports, “Contracts with both NBC Universal and Fox call for a certain number of shows per year that can be taped. For Raw, that number is three”
April 13: WWE and Ad Council partner to launch national PSA for COVID-19 prevention.
April 13: Alpha Entertainment (XFL parent) files for chapter 11 bankruptcy
April 13: Orange County Mayor Jerry Demmings clarifies that WWE has been deemed an essential business by the governor.
April 13: Gov. DeSantis’s press secretary Cody McCloud tells Marc Raimondi that UFC or boxing could be deemed essential. “The memo does not specify specific sports, as long as the event location is closed to the general public.”
April 14: Gov. DeSantis at press conference on WWE: “There’s no crowd or anything. It’s a very small number of people.
April 14: Orange County Sheriff says deputies responded to the PC in March and April
April 15: Vince McMahon’s message to employees
April 15: Gov. DeSantis dismissed notions that politics played a role in decision to amend executive order