WWE has been 'on a tear,' but recent media deals are 'transformational': Co-president

  • World Wrestling Entertainment's stock has skyrocketed in the last year, and there is more good news for the business to come, WWE Co-President George Barrios says.
  • "The deals we signed with Fox and with USA that we announced about a month ago have been transformational for us," he says.

World Wrestling Entertainment's stock has skyrocketed in the last year, and there is more good news for the business to come, WWE Co-President George Barrios told CNBC on Thursday.

Shares of WWE are up almost 290 percent in the last 12 months.

"We've been on a tear for a while executing our digital strategy, our direct-to-consumer strategy, growing the global business," Barrios said on "Closing Bell."

"But certainly the deals we signed with Fox and with USA that we announced about a month ago have been transformational for us," he added.

Lukas Schulze | Bongarts | Getty Images
Sin Cara jumps during the WWE Live Dusseldorf event at ISS Dome on Feb. 22, 2017 in Dusseldorf, Germany.

In June, WWE signed licensing deals with Comcast-owned USA Network and Fox-owned Fox Sports starting from Oct. 1, 2019, for its programs "Raw" and "SmackDown." USA Network will distribute "Raw" on Mondays, while Fox will screen "SmackDown" on Fridays as part of the five-year arrangements.

The deals will increase the average annual value of WWE's U.S. distribution to 3.6 times that of the prior deal with NBCUniversal, which is also owned by Comcast.

That means "Raw" and "SmackDown" could go from $270 million in revenue to almost $600 million in three years, Barrios told CNBC.

The sports entertainment company also reported second-quarter earnings on Thursday that missed expectations, but it scored a major revenue beat.

Revenues increased 31 percent to $281.6 million, an all-time high. Network subscribers were up 10 percent, while digital views jumped 60 percent.

The WWE has made a big investment in digital and specifically in social media. It has 900 million social followers and is the No. 2 channel on YouTube, Barrios said.

"We've been at it for 10 years," he said.

While some people early on weren't sure about digital and social, "We decided to err on going all in," he added. "At the end of the day we set the strategy, put the resources in place, worked like crazy, and that's where we are today."

— CNBC's Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.

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