WWE has a new distribution partner to release its homevideos.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, the largest distributor of homevideo titles in Hollywood, has signed a multiyear pact that will have the studio distribute WWE’s library of pay-per-view events and documentaries in the U.S. on DVD, Blu-ray and digital formats starting Jan. 1.
WBHE replaces Cinedigm, who itself, inherited the WWE distribution deal as part of its purchase of Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment in 2013.
WWE formed a relationship with Warner Bros. starting with the direct-to-video animated film “Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania,” released earlier this year, and one that will pair up WWE’s wrestlers with the animated characters from “The Flintstones.” A “Scooby-Doo” sequel is now also in the works. The films are co-productions with WWE Studios.
“We are thrilled to partner with Warner Bros Home Entertainment, a brand that has proven itself to be the market leader,” said Casey Collins, executive VP, consumer products, WWE. “They have already demonstrated success leveraging the WWE brand with the hit ‘Scooby Doo! WrestleMania Mystery,’ and we look forward to expanding our home video relationship utilizing their expertise.”
WWE released around 30 homevideo titles a year. That includes its 12 PPVs like “WrestleMania” and “SummerSlam.” WWE owns the rights to its vast library of TV shows like “Raw” and “SmackDown” and live events.
Films that WWE Studios produces will continue to be released by those films’ distributors, which currently involves 20th Century Fox, Sony and Lionsgate.
WWE’s homevideo biz isn’t as lucrative as it once was — nor is it for anyone else as more consumers have shifted to digital platforms for entertainment and away from buying DVDs and Blu-rays.
The company will continue to see a decline in sales of its documentaries and live events, especially now that they are available to subscribers of its WWE Network, a streaming service that costs $9.99 a month.
In its own earnings calls, Cinedigm cited WWE’s homevideo deal, which was the company’s biggest account, a low volume breakeven business. However, Cinedigm does not have the same marketing resources as Warner Bros., which will likely put considerable coin in promoting WWE’s releases at retail — both in physical stores and online.
Cinedigm also is overhauling its own traditional homevideo operations, launching themed over-the-top services to target specific audiences — from faith based to families — with its library of films.
Warner Bros. called WWE “an iconic brand that has one of the most passionate fan bases in sports and entertainment,” Jeff Brown, general manager and executive VP, television, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment said. “Since WWE titles accounted for all of the Top 10 sports DVDs of 2013 and ‘WrestleMania 29’ was the No. 1 sports title, we’re very excited to expand our distribution in 2015 and beyond.”