WWE rival files suit over alleged illegal wrestling monopoly.
World Wrestling Entertainment was sued Tuesday by a smaller competitor. It claimed it violated federal antitrust laws by monopolizing professional wrestling.
MLW Media LLC accused WWE Chief Executive Vince McMahon and threatened content partners to do business with MLW to protect its 85% market share for professional wrestling broadcasting rights in the United States.
According to the Mamaroneck, New York-based plaintiff, WWE interference in 2021 caused Vice TV’s end of talks to air new MLK content.
This led to a 40% drop in ticket sales following Fox Corp’s Tubi streaming services abandoning a licensing agreement one night before it was due to be made public.
MLW also charged Stamford, Connecticut-based WWE, inducing MLW wrestlers to breach exclusive contracts and airing MLW footage unpermitted to counter a five-year decline in its popularity.
MLW stated that WWE’s “pattern for predatory and exclusionary behavior” lowers competition and irreparably damages consumers by denying them content and keeping prices high.
“This anti-competitive behavior must stop,” MLW Chief Executive Court Bauer stated in a statement.
The complaint was filed at the San Francisco federal court.
WWE stated in an emailed statement that it believes MLW’s claims are without merit and intends to defend its position vigorously. However, McMahon wasn’t named as a defendant.
MLW stated that the U.S. television rights to WWE programs, WWE Raw and WWE Smackdown, are worth $470 million.
The suit seeks unspecified triple damages and other damages.
Closed Tuesday at $51.54, WWE shares were up 38 cents.
They rose 9% over the past year, while the Russell 1000, which includes WWE, is up 21%.
The case is MLW Media LLC v World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. U.S. District Court Northern District of California, No. 22-00179.
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