WWE shares smacked down as company seeks options for streaming service

(Reuters) – Six years after the much-hyped launch of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc’s (WWE.N) streaming service, WWE Network, the media company on Thursday surprised investors by saying it would evaluate strategic alternatives for the platform.

The company’s streaming venture has had a rocky 2019, reporting a third straight quarter of decline in average paid subscribers.

Evercore ISI said the announcement was unexpected, highlighting that the streaming service scaled quickly to around 1.5 million subscribers within two years of launching before stagnating.

Shares of WWE fell more than 15% on Thursday, after the company reported lower-than-expected quarterly profit and provided a weak forecast for the year.

The media group said it was looking at several initiatives to pursue growth, including the plans to pursue changes at WWE Network to strengthen user engagement.

Shares of the company, which announced departure of its long time co-presidents last week, were down 15.9% to $41.22 in morning trading.

Analysts had called the departures surprising, and with Evercore ISI saying that the abrupt nature of the statement suggested a tumultuous situation at the company.

Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty