Financial terms of the deal were not revealed, but toys and video games are the largest component of WWE’s licensing business, representing 18% of its overall net revenue in 2012, the last full-year that WWE reported earnings results. It announces 2013 results on Feb. 20.
Deal extension will continue to have Mattel produce action figures and playsets featuring WWE’s wrestlers and rings along with props like championship belts, microphones and masks. The line includes the FlexForce, Rumblers and Power Slammers figures and the popular Brawlin’ Buddies plush figures.
Mattel’s line of WWE toys are available in more than 50 countries, and have consistently ranked as the No. 1 action figure property in the United States. Mattel’s core brands include Barbie, Hot Wheels, Monster High, American Girl, Thomas & Friends and Fisher-Price.
The design of the products and constant refresh of their looks are meant reflect the changing storylines of WWE’s TV programming, watched by more than 15 million viewers in the United States. When Mattel took over the action figure license, it found success by speeding up design and production times, producing new figures over a three-to-four month period, rather than the typical six-to-eight month process.
“WWE and Mattel’s action figure line is consistently ranked in the top two thanks to our creative marketing campaigns, tremendous retail support and seamless infusion of cutting-edge innovations,” said Doug Wadleigh, senior VP, global brands marketing, boys and entertainment for Mattel. “We are excited to continue our partnership with WWE as they expand their global footprint and leverage our global scale to deliver WWE toys to kids around the world.”
Mattel landed the deal to replace Jakks Pacific as WWE’s primary toymaker in 2009, with the first products hitting retailers’ shelves in January 2010. Timing came shortly after WWE embraced a more PG-rated family friendly format for its weekly TV shows like “Monday Night Raw” and “Friday Night SmackDown.” Mattel also is the master toy licensee for Warner Bros.’ DC Entertainment.
“Mattel has invested significant resources in consumer insights and raised the bar for design innovations for WWE, while expanding our line into new categories,” said Casey Collins, executive VP, consumer products, WWE. “Their unparalleled support has allowed us to further engage fans through authentic, quality products, meaningful experiences and standout presence at retail.”
WWE is making repeated visits to the negotiating table to strike new deals with existing partners.
Mattel follows a new rich pact with the U.K.’s BSkyB to continue to air WWE’s weekly shows to its 15.5 million subscribers for the next five years. “WWE Main Event” will also be added to Sky Sports and Sky One. All 12 of WWE’s pay-per-views, including “WrestleMania” will also be available on Sky Sports Box Office. Deal is said to have doubled the licensing fees WWE previously received from BSkyB.
Up next are talks with NBCUniversal on whether to re-up their current TV licensing partnership. WWE is hoping to significantly boost the revenue it receives for its shows on USA Network and Syfy and land a pact that comes closer to what live sporting events receive.
Overall, deals with companies like Mattel have also enabled it to increase its sponsorship revenue from $7.4 million in 2008, to more than $20 million annually, the company has said, as it’s been able to land more blue chip brands to the PG-format of its shows.
The new deals, along with the Feb. 24 launch of its digital-only WWE Network, have boosted the stock price of WWE to its highest levels since 1999.
Mattel is announcing the extension of its partnership with WWE before Toy Fair kicks off Feb. 16-19 from the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.
Just how much revenue Mattel will generate for WWE is unclear, as the toy industry experienced declines across most categories last year, according to NPD Group. Action figures, in particular, fell 6%, the largest dollar sales decline over 2012 for the toy biz.
However, licensed products experienced a 3% increase in sales in 2013. They now account for 31% of total industry sales, NPD said.