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WWE Network Enters China Just In Time For SummerSlam

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WWE Network Enters China Just In Time For SummerSlam
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World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: WWE) shares jumped 3 percent Thursday after the company announce it would be launching the WWE Network in China starting on Aug. 18. WWE announced a new partnership deal with Chinese streaming company PPTV just 10 days ahead of its SummerSlam pay-per-view event.

WWE and PPTV have worked together in the past to stream weekly episodic programming, as well as major pay-per view events, such as WrestleMania. However, the new deal will take the partnership one step further, offering PPTV customers full access to the WWE Network.

“When we began our exclusive partnership with WWE, we brought WWE’s signature programming, Raw and SmackDown, to PPTV and received a great response from WWE fans in China,” said Godfrey Zeng, executive vice president of Suning Sports Media, parent company of PPTV.

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In can be difficult for U.S. companies to establish a business presence in China, where the government has banned many Western apps and services. Instead, U.S. companies like WWE have found success in partnering with Chinese companies rather than going it alone.

Earlier this year, streaming giant Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) finally abandoned its long-term plan to launch its service in China and opted instead to partner with Chinese Search giant Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ: BIDU) to offer its services via the iQIYI platform. WWE now seems to be taking a similar approach to China.

While WWE shareholders seem to see value in the China deal, Indeed Wrestling’s Chris Harrington says investors shouldn’t expect a meaningful impact from China anytime soon.

“I think the hype of China, especially since we don’t know the price, is way overplayed,” Harrington said. “It’s a long-term investment for them, not something that should really pump the Network [subscriber number] in 2017.”

WWE previously guided for a Q3 paid network subscriber count of 1.54 million, up just 140,000 from the 1.40 million reported at the end of 2016.

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Image Credit: By Simon Q from United Kingdom - Zack Ryder @ Axxess, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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