News > Deals
WWF buys rival WCW
March 23, 2001: 7:00 p.m. ET

World Wrestling Fed. ends 20-yr. rivalry, buys World Championship Wrestling
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - The World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc. agreed Friday to acquire rival World Championship Wrestling, ending a near 20-year rivalry.

Stamford, Conn.-based World Wrestling Federation Entertainment (WWF: Research, Estimates) now has global rights to the World Championship Wrestling brand, tape library and other intellectual rights.

TNN is anticipated to be the new home of WCW, a WWF spokesman said, and WCW will not air on TNT or WTBS. Cross-brand storylines may start as soon as Monday during the "WWF Raw is War" on TNN and Monday's final performance of "WCW Monday Nitro Live" on Turner Network Television.

graphicThe WWF bought the wrestling firm from Turner Broadcasting System Inc., a unit of AOL Time Warner. is also a unit of AOL Time Warner (AOL: Research, Estimates).

The two companies have been competing against each other for 18 years, and executives vowed that the WCW will not fade away.

"WWF has been a rival organization to the WCW for quite some time," said WWF CEO Linda McMahon on a conference call open to journalists. "With the new infusion of stars and the cross-branded story lines, this does nothing but raise the specter potential for us. We're very pleased to have come to agreement to purchase that brand."

No financial terms were released but McMahon said the purchase was not a stock transaction.

WWF is the largest provider of programmed wrestling entertainment, with such top-rated shows as "WWF Raw is War" and "WWF Smackdown!" on the UPN Network. Top stars also include The Rock, Chyna and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.

"We bought WCW because it would be great way to propel our core business, the sports entertainment genre, to new height," said WWF spokesman Gary Davis.

WWF is also an equal partner with NBC in the fledgling professional football league XFL which scored record low ratings recently. Executives said the WCW purchase has nothing to do with the football league.

AOL Time Warner could not be reached for comment.

graphicAtlanta-based World Championship Wrestling produces live wrestling shows and competes against the WWF. The World Championship Wrestling franchise includes popular cable television show "WCW Monday Nitro Live" and "WCW Worldwide," which is seen in syndication in 94 percent of the United States.

In January, Fusient Media Ventures inked a deal to buy World Championship Wrestling. However, the deal fell apart when AOL's Turner Broadcasting decided to drop WCW from its TBS and TNT channels.

The once-popular WCW is now losing money and analysts estimate that last year the wrestling franchise lost about $80 million. WWF executives declined to discuss WCW's financial situation but said they encountered no surprises when looking at the rival firm's financials.

The WWF is still working out many details of its agreement to buy WCW. The company will be assuming some actor's contracts but others it will not, executives said. The WCW also plans to expand its pay-per-view offerings but not in the near future.

Shares for WWF lost 1 cent to $12.10 Friday while AOL gained $2.75, or 7.48 percent, to $39.52 Friday. graphic