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UPDATE: Sony Music Gets WWF Rights

20 Jul, 2001 By: John Jimenez

The World Wrestling Federation (WWF) has inked a domestic video distribution deal with Sony Music Video, giving Sony exclusive rights to all WWF home video product, including the more than 40 VHS and DVD titles released every year as well as its vast catalog.

World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc. was distributing all WWF releases itself but has decided to ally with an outside distributor in an attempt to reach more retailers and consumers.

“We don’t have the expertise or sales distribution system of a company like Sony,” says Mark Gilula, WWF’s v.p. of home video. “Sony’s alreadygot the direct relationships established.”

Although many companies made plays for the highly coveted line, WWF ultimately went with Sony for a number of reasons, Gilula says. Oneimportant factor, he says, is that Sony is proactively involved in marketing its product to retailers. “What I really love about the Sonypersonnel and what I’m looking forward to is for them to come back to uswith marketing concepts,” he says.

“We’re in a unique position in that we specialize in non-theatrical programming,” says Sony’s executive v.p. and general manager David Pierce. “We’re designed to work programming on a local market basis; we’re able to execute a lot of local in-store programming.

“[WWF] is much more about the promotion of events and superstars, so it fits with what we do as a company,” Pierce adds, noting Sony’s extensive music product experience.

Another factor in WWF’s decision to go with Sony was the company’s location. “We’re both East Coast-based companies,” says Gilula. WWF is based in Stamford, Conn., while Sony is based in New York.

Sony’s particular experience with sellthrough product was another big selling point for the company. “All of our product is priced forsellthrough,” Gilula says.

Analyst Tom Adams of Adams Media Research says it comes as no surprise that WWF sought out a partner. “Ultimately, it’s a tough game to distribute just one product line,” Adams says. “It’s pretty clear, atthis point, you need a distribution partner.”

Pierce says Sony plans to expand distribution of the line, noting he wants to get WWF product in groceries and mass merchants on a consistentbasis. He would also like better coordinate the timing of VHS and DVD releases.

The first four titles released under the agreement street July 31. WWF Hardcore and Judgment Day will both come out on DVD at $24.95. King of the Ring and The Best of Raw is War Volume 3 will bow on VHS at $19.95 each.

For Sony/WWF news photos, click here.Sony Music Celebrates

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