WWE to make Raw and SmackDown! distinct tv brands
The company, as of April 1, 2002, will make its flagship program, WWE RAW™, and WWE SmackDown!® stand-alone programs with unique talent and storylines. If you want to see Booker T.® , Rob Van Dam® , Lita® and the Hardy Boyz® , tune in to RAW on TNN on Monday nights at 9 p.m.; if you want to watch Kurt Angle® , Chris Jericho® , Edge® , and Stacy Keibler® , tune in to SmackDown! on UPN on Thursdays at 8 p.m. RAW storylines will run Monday to Monday; SmackDown plots will run Thursday to Thursday.
The creation of two distinct television shows provides the opportunity to create and promote new Superstars and more exciting storylines. "We are going to give our fans more of what they have come to know and love. More twists and turns, more action, and more Superstars in the way that only the WWE™knows how to do," said Vince McMahon, Chairman of WWE. "In the process, we will also win some new fans.
"This is an important step for our company, and one that we have planned for quite some time," McMahon added. "With the acquisition of WCW, and the talent development work we have been doing, we now have the depth of talent necessary to provide the star power to drive two compelling, distinct, prime-time television programs, and that’s what our fans will get starting in April."
WWE made the talent announcements live on RAW™this past Monday as part of a storyline talent "draft" resulting from the ongoing television feud between "co-owners" Mr. McMahon® and Ric Flair® . The first 10 "rounds" of the draft were held on RAW™on Monday night. Another 20 rounds were announced on wwe.com after RAW™left the air. (A full list of talent assignments can be found at www.wweowners.com/draft/index.html)
Wondering where to find Stone Cold Steve Austin® ? Stay tuned. He is the hottest "free agent" in the business for which both shows are vying. As for Triple H® and Jazz® , they are current men’s and women’s champions, respectively, who will float across both programs until someone else captures the title belts. "Trades" between programs and other plot devices will provide the flexibility to move certain talent from show to show to drive storyline opportunities and create controversy, a WWE™trademark.
Interest in the draft on Monday night was high. The RAW™episode was the highest rated program since The Rock™’s return to RAW™in July 2001. RAW™finished as the #1 prime time show (basic cable and broadcast) in its 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. slot among male teens and men ages 12 to 34. Women were also intrigued, with women viewers 18 to 24 increasing by 129 percent from the previous week. It was the second strong week of ratings for RAW™following WrestleMania™X-8.
With separate RAW™and SmackDown!® touring companies, WWE will significantly increase opportunities for fans to experience the World Wrestling WWE live. WWE is increasing the number of live events it offers annually in the United States and Canada, from approximately 200 to 350. An expanded international touring schedule is underway, which will increase the number of international dates, and will bring the World Wrestling WWE™to Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Scotland, Germany and Australia in 2002, in addition to traditional touring stop England.
WWE is currently the top provider of pay-per-view programming in the world, and expects to offer additional pay-per-views in the United States and internationally.
New licensing and branded merchandise opportunities are expected through the promotion of two separate, distinct television brands, and the expansion of sales opportunities at live events.
WWE Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: WWE) is an integrated media and entertainment company headquartered in Stamford, Conn., with offices in New York City, Chicago, Toronto and London. Additional information on the company can be found at wwe.com and wweecorpbiz.com.
Media Contact: Gary Davis, 203-353-5066
Investor Contact: Tom Gibbons, 203-328-2576
Forward-Looking Statements: This news release contains forward-looking statements which are subject to various risks and uncertainties. These risks and uncertainties include the conditions of the markets for live events, broadcast television, cable television, pay-per-view, Internet, food and beverage, entertainment, professional sports, and licensed merchandise; acceptance of the Company’s brands, media and merchandise within those markets; and other risks and factors identified in the Company’s documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Actual results could differ materially from those currently anticipated.