Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Buys XFL for $15 Million

soxhop411

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The XFL has been sold to a group that includes former WWE star Dwayne “The Rock’’ Johnson, giving the bankrupt football league the kind of star power that may draw even non-sports fans.

Johnson, an actor and producer who played college football at the University of Miami, teamed up with Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital to buy the league just hours before a planned auction was scheduled to begin.

They paid $15 million, splitting it evenly. Johnson’s business partner, Dany Garcia, who is also his ex-wife, will be a stakeholder as well.

RedBird has made a litany of sports-related investments, including some with ties to the National Football League and its players.

Still don’t think the XFL will last even with the new owners.
 

Batman Likes The Sox

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So... basically this is the next season of Ballers.

In all seriousness, what's the probability that The Rock can draw anyone away from the NFL over time? Any world in which big contracts are available and this ownership team poses a even a minor threat to Goodell and co.?
 

Awesome Fossum

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No chance it's a threat to the NFL. It was positioned as a complementary product to the NFL and, if anything, will probably become more developmental oriented. If it's going to compete with anyone for talent, it will be college football.

Third time's the charm. Go Defenders!
 

NickEsasky

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Having a failed football league under his belt will be good for his future Presidential aspirations.
 

Phil Plantier

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I wonder how much the rights to the existing footage are worth, for shows that need to show "pro football" but can't show the NFL?
 

PedroKsBambino

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So the XFL now has a better commissioner than the NFL....albeit, that's a low bar.
 

Phil Plantier

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If I did my math right, if they can triple that (bc of newer HD/4K footage?), the present value of 300k/year with a 2% rate of return is:

15 million
 

bakahump

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"Annnnnnnnd Dwayne Johnson annouces he will star in a New Football Drama to be released in 2022 Tentatively named "Gridiron" it will follow an aging star as he contemplates the end of a distinguished career. The Film is rumored to contain real live game footage highlights. Johnson is slated to make 7.5 million for the project"
 

shaggydog2000

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and the CFL...
The XFL is a late winter to spring league. The CFL is summer to early fall. NFL is Fall to early winter. They all have their time periods marked out. So for TV eyeballs they don't compete, but for talent they're probably going to have tiers were they overlap, but overall different levels.
 

sodenj5

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I do think that having a domestic football product that doesn’t compete with the NFL directly but works more like a AAA or AA talent pipeline can be sustainable.

The XFL had some legit talent that was either from college or formerly from the NFL and several players got picked up once the league halted.

People love football. There are more football players than there are NFL roster slots. The XFL can fill that void if they operate smartly. I think they ultimately need to have some sort of transfer system like soccer so that if/when the NFL poaches talent from them, the league or club would get some sort of benefit to offset the loss.
 

Captaincoop

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Having Dwayne Johnson involved probably gets you any meeting you want to have, either with sponsors, TV/streaming networks, or with the NFL.

Should open up some opportunities that weren't there under Vince McMahon.

I was a season ticket holder for the XFL and went to a number of games. The product on the field was questionable, but the game were affordable and fun. There's a way to make spring football work, and as someone noted above, it probably begins with a formalized talent transfer agreement with the NFL. I'd argue they might also go after 19 and 20 year olds who aren't eligible for the NFL draft to sprinkle in a little star power.
 

mauf

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I wonder how much the rights to the existing footage are worth, for shows that need to show "pro football" but can't show the NFL?
This is an insightful question. Because whether you think minor-league football is viable or not, buying Vince McMahon’s IP isn’t going to make or break whether you succeed or fail. But if you get some video assets for that $15 million, plus VMc’s covenant not to compete with you, that might justify the price.
 

Kliq

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The money that The Rock and Co. have spent to acquire the rights to the league is nothing compared to the money they are going to have to spend to actually get the league back up and going. Vince was apparently ready to lose hundreds of millions of dollars (well, until he wasn't) so The Rock and his partners are either going to be willing to lose that kind of money, or try and get some new investors on board who are willing to lose a lot of money early.

The entire deal hinges on the landscape of television rights fees and how that evolves coming out of the pandemic and as the cable landscape continues to shift. The idea behind Vince restarting the league was that even if there wasn't enough interest in the league to be sustainable at first, he would weather the losses early and run a few seasons and prove to TV companies/streamers that there was enough steady interest in the league to justify a lucrative TV deal; even if they got 1/8th of what the NFL gets, they would be rolling in money.

The problem for Vince was that he couldn't get any TV deals that paid him anything beyond production costs at first, which put him deep in a hole. Then the pandemic hit and Vince decided that TV companies might not shell out big money for second rate football in a few years, and decided to cut his losses there. The idea blew up in his face.

Perhaps The Rock is able to convince people to pay for the XFL right off the bat, but I doubt that. Vince knows a lot of people in the TV industry and for all intents and purposes, the second incarnation of the XFL was run much better than the first (until Vince fucked over everyone else in the company when he shut the league down). Yet, he didn't get a good TV deal to start and didn't see a path forward in the future. With executives having already seen the XFL implode twice, are they really going to invest in a failed product for a third time?
 

Awesome Fossum

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I think "implode" is a pretty unfair characterization of what happened in March. In a COVID free world, they almost certainly wrap up a modestly successful 2020 and are gearing up for their "prove it" season in 2021. By all reports, they were meeting their business targets.

Then the pandemic hit and Vince decided that TV companies might not shell out big money for second rate football in a few years, and decided to cut his losses there.
Do you have a source for this? I haven't seen anything that suggests Vince no longer believes the original vision is viable. I'm under the impression that it was more a matter of his primary source of wealth (WWE stock) being halved in like a week and he felt like he had to retrench. But even after all of that, there was a lot of smoke about him reacquiring the XFL in the bankruptcy process before creditors raised enough of a stink.

I agree that a key question is whether the new group has the cash to maintain the original runway, especially considering there probably won't be ticket revenue in 2021.
 

Kliq

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I think "implode" is a pretty unfair characterization of what happened in March. In a COVID free world, they almost certainly wrap up a modestly successful 2020 and are gearing up for their "prove it" season in 2021. By all reports, they were meeting their business targets.



Do you have a source for this? I haven't seen anything that suggests Vince no longer believes the original vision is viable. I'm under the impression that it was more a matter of his primary source of wealth (WWE stock) being halved in like a week and he felt like he had to retrench. But even after all of that, there was a lot of smoke about him reacquiring the XFL in the bankruptcy process before creditors raised enough of a stink.

I agree that a key question is whether the new group has the cash to maintain the original runway, especially considering there probably won't be ticket revenue in 2021.
That is what Dave Meltzer reported. It’s pretty clear regardless that was what Vince’s thinking was; Covid-19 changed his thought process and he decided he didn’t want to gamble hundreds of millions on the future of live sports television rights, especially when no one came calling for the league during its debut season. I don’t believe Vince was ever seriously concerned about his own net worth diminishing so quickly with the WWE stock price tanking for a while, but it’s possible it did play some sort of a factor when it came to the XFL.