I’ve been away busy working on something else, but I’m glad to return. Even though we’re two weeks into 2022 and these sort of pieces come out in the first few days of the year, I decided to give some predictions for the year ahead in film, sport and wrestling.
Triple H & Stephanie McMahon Will Lead Comcast’s Purchasing Of WWE
WWE up for sale has been a significant talking point within the wrestling world for roughly 12 to 18 months as a fallout of the pandemic.
When you consider the pandemic, releasing superstars while sad was understandable. However, they continue to release numerous wrestlers and backstage staff whilst also announcing 1% to 1.7% profits (via WWE); it all just stinks a bit.
Especially when looking at the Nick Khan/Vince McMahon firings, A LOT were Hunter/ Paul Levesque signings for NXT. While looking at their successes on Impact, the indies and AEW as a proud dad, a little part of him will be sad they’re not doing it at WWE.
What would’ve hurt more is the recent firings of “his people” at NXT like Road Dogg, Gabe Sapolsky and most notably William Regal. As Wade Keller for PWTorch (via Comicbook.com) put it, this was going to be “his team that he would bring with him to the main roster” when his time to run it came.
All of this is happening whilst The Game is still recovering from a severe cardiac event he suffered in September.
Which brings the idea these firings is all cause of showing potential buyers a strong balance sheet worth buying.
The only two companies interested in buying WWE are FOX and Comcast. Even though I think Fox and Fox Sports would be a stronger home for the future and growth of the company, Comcast (owners of Universal, NBC, and more importantly in this situation USA Network) has a strong connection with WWE. Due to the network being part of their streaming service, Peacock.
Additionally, Comcast has the deeper packets and if WWE’s net worth, as of 2020, is listed at $5.71 billion (via Sportskeeda), they’d be able to make the better offer. So could see an offer of $7.5-$10 billion possibly securing the deal, and importantly is that it’ll still be in some way in the family’s hands with Stephanie and Hunter in control.
It’ll also end WWE as an independent company becoming a Comcast brand, but with that, I’d hope part of the deal would be better insurance for talent. Plus, move both brands (this would mean getting the SmackDown rights back) to NBC Sports to gain a bigger following and be taken more seriously.
It’ll also be the best of both worlds as Stephanie handles all the business side of things, and Hunter, while supporting the business/boardroom stuff and vice versa, is more focused on talent and production.
This would mean bringing “his team” back together and working towards the same heights of the golden (and black) years of NXT. Furthermore, I’d keep Vince on board in an adversary role.
Emma Watts Will Join Warner Bros-Discovery Once Merger Is Completed & Toby Emmerich Will Be Out
As the WarnerMedia/ Discovery merger is set to be completed during the middle of the year, all eyes will be on the team Discovery CEO David Zaslav will create once the deal is done as the axe begins to fall.
The first will be WarnerMedia CEO Jason Killar, which will be a shame, as I think he’s done an alright job despite greenlighting Warner Bros 2021 day-and-date release strategy. He clearly loves working at the legendary studio, but Zaslav will be the CEO of the new company.
Understandably, Zaslav will bring a lot of his Discovery team into the management roles, but it would be great if there’s a role found to keep Killar.
The two biggest names I can see leaving will be Ann Sarnoff and Toby Emmerich.
Emma Watts is the ideal person to replace Sarnoff as Chair and CEO of Warner Bros-Discovery Studios and Network Group. Her experience at the Hollywood studio level with 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures will be invaluable. Additionally, being a free agent will be a major bonus as she left Paramount, having been overlooked to be chair there.
The one fans, directors and actors won’t be sad to see leave will be Warner Bros Chairman Emmerich. This won’t be because he’ll have a new job lined up; he’ll simply get fired.
You can point to many situations, but the big one will be his idea to release all of their 2021 films on day-and-date with HBO Max and lose the studio so much money will be the main reason for his sacking.
At the moment, two names come to mind for Emmerich’s replacement, them being Charles Roven and Walter Hamada.
Roven is a legend in the industry, having worked for nearly 50 years producing movies in various genres, from DC movies to Christopher Nolan projects.
With someone like Chuck leading, he would return the studio to its filmmaker-led mantra and have their back in meetings with other execs and Zaslav.
The issue is would he want to leave being so hands on a production with his Atlas Entertainment banner to be stuck in an office dealing with higher-ups who don’t know movie making like he does.
Meanwhile, Hamada could see his name in for a promotion, and while that will annoy a lot of the Snyder fans, he has a decent record.
Suppose The Batman and The Flash are critical and financial successes (billion-dollar-plus) and the Aquaman sequel repeats the billion-dollar success of the original. In that case, Zaslav will see a winner to move WB forward.
Discovery Buys BT Sport
Sticking with Discovery, back in May last year when the merger was first revealed to me, I mentioned what this could mean for the UK with eyes focusing on the sale of BT Sport.
You can read the whole piece here, but in a nutshell, I was saying if Discovery bought BT, it’d bring serious competition to Sky when it comes to broadcasting rights.
Now, it looks like it could happen as last month it was reported (via Financial Times), the US media group is in talks to partner with the sporting broadcaster hijacking the £600 million sale to sports streaming service, DAZN.
While this wouldn’t be an outright sale, a joint partnership could be the perfect move, as BT (with its Premier League, Champions League UK rights) and Eurosport (with the Europe Olympics Games rights) could become a new powerhouse.
As the multibillion merger is be completed and creating the world’s second-biggest media company behind Disney, the bonus would be the use of Turner Sports. The first move could be to require the UK NBA rights as the four-year deal with Sky Sports ends soon, meaning the sport would be under both Discovery brands.
This could make BT Eurosport/ BTE Sports (random renames under the new banner) or keep BT Sport and Eurosport separate, the home for US sport. BT already has MLB, College sports and NHL, so adding NBA back (after losing it to Sky Sports) would be perfect.
I just don’t see them beating out Sky for NFL unless it’s a joint deal.
In turn, Turner Sports could get their own slice of the Premier League pie in the US, but they’ll have to wait until 2028 when NBC Sports $2 billion deal ends.
Meanwhile, DAZN could lose out on this deal because BT wants to ensure that its broadband subscribers will have continued access to DAZN’s services.
On the other hand, Discovery+ and BT Sports App would merge and this could mean WWE (who has a broadcasting deal with BT) could strike a similar deal they did with Comcast and their Peacock streaming service and move the WWE Network onto Discovery+.
Other 2022 Predictions:
- The European Super League will be repackaged and relaunched.
- Michael G. Wilson will announce his retirement from Eon Production but will stay on in an advisory role with son Gregg stepping up to co-produce James Bond films with Barbara Broccoli.
- A New James Bond will be unveiled and Bond 26 announcement.
- Tottenham Hotspur will be sold, but Daniel Levy will remain chairman.
- Plans for a Premier League app/streaming serivce are revealed