Sydney, 2022-01-11 19:37:46. WWE competitor sues over alleged illegal wrestling monopoly
World Wrestling Entertainment Inc filed a lawsuit Tuesday by a smaller competitor accusing it of violating federal antitrust law by monopolizing the professional wrestling market.
MLW Media LLC has accused WWE and CEO Vince McMahon of threatening content partners to do business with MLW, to help protect its 85% share of the US market for professional wrestling broadcasting rights.
The New York-based plaintiff in Mamaroneck said WWE’s interference in 2021 caused Vice TV to end talks to broadcast new MLW content, and led to a 40% drop in ticket sales after Fox Corp’s streaming service Tubi abandoned its licensing agreement for the night. prior to that. to be announced publicly.
MLW has also accused WWE in Stamford, Connecticut, of paying MLW wrestlers to break exclusive contracts and broadcast MLW footage without permission, to combat a five-year decline in the popularity of its own shows.
In its complaint filed in San Francisco federal court, MLW said WWE’s “predatory and exclusionary behavior pattern” reduces competition and irreparably harms consumers by denying them content and keeping prices high.
In an emailed statement, WWE said it believes MLW’s allegations are baseless and intends to defend itself vigorously. McMahon was not named as the accused.
MLW said the US television rights to WWE’s programming, WWE Raw and WWE Smackdown, are worth $470 million. The lawsuit seeks triple and unspecified damages.
WWE shares closed up 38 cents on Tuesday at $51.54. They are up 9% in the past year, while the price of the Russell 1000, which includes WWE, is up 21%.
The case is MLW Media LLC against World Wrestling Entertainment Inc, US District Court, Northern District of California, No. 22-00179.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stemple in New York; Editing by Richard Boleyn)
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