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18 June 2011

Shane McMahon Focuses You On Demand In China, by Greg Tingle - 18th July 2011


Internet Television Shane McMahon WWE Wrestling Hollywood China United States Warner Bros.

Shane McMahon has been pounding the pavement hard in the past few years... all part of leaping out of a famous father's shadow.

Make no mistake, these days Shane McMahon is his own man...and on a global scale - U.S, China and most points in between.

Recently word leaked that when young Shane was 5 years old his old man, Vince McMahon (wrestling king of the world) and WWE him working hard pacing from from barber shop to barber hanging up wrestling fliers and posters. It's a tough job, and Shane was man enough for it.

The young McMahon stayed loyal to his father to circa 2009, working as the WWE's executive vice president of global media. He was a big part of getting WWE content and events in almost 150 countries.

The 41 year old McMahon is aiming to do for Hollywood what he did for the WWE. Earlier this week his company You on Demand formed a strategic partnership with Warner Bros. to get the entertainment giant's content into China via pay-per-view and video-on-demand cable platforms. You on Demand has access to homes in China through a 20-year deal with China Home Cinema, the pay-television arm of that country's CCTV-6 network. Cable operators can deliver the content into homes. You on Demand advised it expects to have as many as 3 million subscribers this season.

China, home to 1.3 billion, has become a business priority for Hollywood. The Motion Picture Assn. of America is attempting to get the Chinese government to ease up on its restrictions on foreign films and double the current quota to as many as 40.

In the meantime, Hollywood is trying to find other avenues into China. Earlier this month, Legendary Pictures, a Burbank company that co-financed "The Hangover" and "The Dark Knight," unveiled a joint venture with a Chinese entertainment conglomerate to make English-language films in China that would be exported around the world. Cable represents another window into the market and Warner Bros. will make current as well as older product available through You on Demand.

McMahon was previously working his tosh off for his famous father at WWE. He had been working there professionally since graduating from Boston University...holding positions in marketing, sales, promotion and production. He even reffed some matches and got in the squared circle on occasion and then as "Shane-O-Mac."

Rising high up the executive ranks, McMahon was seen as a potential successor to his father. There was only one problem. "He wasn't going anywhere," he said and laughed.

As a favor to a friend, McMahon took a meeting with Marc Urbach, who was chief financial officer of what was then known as China Broadband Inc. The company had just secured a license to operate in China and Urbach, who grew up as a fan of the WWE, wanted to pick McMahon's brains about the region. McMahon had spent a lot of time schmoozing government officials to get WWE content inside the country.

"At first I didn't believe them," McMahon said when he was told the company had a green light to set up shop in China. "Getting the license is the hardest thing in the world." He did his due diligence, even flying to China to visit the company's offices there.

Initially, McMahon was approached about joining China Broadband Inc.'s board of directors. The more time he spent studying the company, the more intrigued he became. He joined the company in late 2009 as its chairman and chief executive and invested a cool $4 million.

"It was the hardest decision I've ever had to make," McMahon said of his leaving WWE to strike out on his own. "I didn't want to wake up when I was 70 and say, 'I should have done that.'" Telling his father he wanted to leave was "brutal" and now, almost two years later, there remains some residual tension. "It's still hard," he said.

McMahon is confident that he is entering a buyer's market in China. The heavy piracy there has convinced him that consumers are hungry for content.

"If you give them access and it's better quality, why aren't they going to watch it," he said.

McMahon said he is "very far down the road" with other studios about signing deals similar to the Warner Bros. agreement.

Probed if he'd be striking any deals with his father for WWE content on You on Demand, McMahon cracked, "I don't know, I'm a tough negotiator."

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