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From Gridiron To Squared Circle: Pat McAfee Joins WWE's 'Friday Night SmackDown'

From Gridiron To Squared Circle: Pat McAfee Joins WWE's 'Friday Night SmackDown'

Friday nights have become a lot more colorful, at least for fans of WWE (NYSE: WWE). Beginning tonight, Pat McAfee is joining "Friday Night SmackDown" as its new color analyst.

What Happened: McAfee's arrival on "Friday Night SmackDown" is the latest stop on a high-profile career that has included stints as an All-Pro punter for the Indianapolis Colts, a sports talk show host on Alphabet's (NASDAQ: GOOGL) YouTube and Sirius XM Holdings (NASDAQ: SIRI), an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, a stand-up comedian, a podcaster, and both a commentator and a wrestler on WWE's NXT.

"I've been fortunate to try a lot of cool professions, but working for WWE was the one I looked forward to most," said McAfee. "I am incredibly honored and grateful for the chance to give back to the business that has given me and many others so much and having the opportunity to sit at the same table that legends have graced is truly a dream come true. Now let's go get it."

Related Link: WWE Launches Undertaker NFTs With Extra Perks: What Investors And Wrestling Fans Should Know

Why It Matters: WWE barely escaped a financial pummeling in 2020, with $974.2 million in revenue, a $13.8 million or 1% uptick from the previous year. The company credited the growth in core content rights fees as offsetting heavy losses in live event ticket and merchandise sales due to the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with the absence of a financially lucrative event scheduled last year for Saudi Arabia.

On Jan. 25, WWE issued guidance forecasting the continued cancellation, postponement or reduced capacity of ticketed live events during the first half of this year due to the ongoing pandemic-related restrictions, coupled with a "significant year-over-year increase in WWE's expense base due to the return of employees from furlough and continued higher expenses associated with the production of its weekly ‘Raw' and ‘SmackDown' television content." WWE has been broadcasting events without live audiences for the past year,

However, WWE has a flair for staying in the spotlight. In January, it announced the shuttering of its WWE Network streaming platform and the migration of its content to Peacock, the streaming service of Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) subsidiary NBCUniversal, in a deal reportedly worth $1 billion.

The McAfee news has animated the pro wrestling fan universe, with WWE-focused online media obsessing over his arrival on "Friday Night SmackDown." The Ring Report opined that McAfee's presence will be "welcomed by some, and hated by others" while insisted "the show just got even better" and the upcoming pairing of McAfee with Michael Cole as the ringside observers "is really a perfect match."

(Photo of Pat McAfee courtesy of WWE.)


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