WWE has tag-teamed with Chinese streaming service PPTV to launch the WWE Network in the world’s most populous country. Starting August 18th, Chinese wrestling enthusiasts will no longer have to circumvent The Great Firewall to watch their favorite pro wrestlers battle it out in the ring.
Even for WWE, a global entertainment conglomerate and publicly traded company on the NYSE, this is big news. With a population of nearly 1.4 billion people, China is a huge market for WWE to sink its tentacles into. Notoriously hostile to foreign investment, this deal is only possible in conjunction with PPTV, a subsidiary of Chinese billionaire Zhang Jindong’s Suning Holding Group. For context, China is so serious about keeping foreign investment out of the country that it has its own Google (Baidu), its own Apple (Xiomi), but the one thing it can’t clone is “fake” wrestling.
WWE’s patriarch, Vince McMahon, has built his empire from scratch, along with wife Linda, who currently serves as the Administrator of the Small Business Administration for the Trump Administration. Now 71 years old and a billionaire, there’s not much left for McMahon to conquer. But even for a self-made mogul, this deal registers on the Richter scale. Population-wise, China is 15 times bigger than the United Kingdom and Australia combined and over four times bigger than the United States.
While WWE and PPTV struck a deal last year to broadcast WWE’s flagship programs, Raw and SmackDown, this new deal includes all live pay-per-view events and over 1,000 hours of on-demand content, meaning that McMahon & Co. will see a healthy uptick in pay-per-view buys going forward.
“With this launch, WWE Network is now available in every market, reaching more than 180 countries around the world, delivering all our premium live events and an archive of action-packed, family-friendly entertainment that has thrilled WWE audiences for years.”
Michelle Wilson, Chief Revenue & Marketing Officer, WWE
You heard it straight from the horse’s mouth (no disrespect to Mrs. Wilson); China was the last domino to fall in WWE’s plan for world domination.