By Ronald Grover and Lisa Richwine
Feb 22 (Reuters) - Shane McMahon, the son of pro-wrestling impresario Vince McMahon, will team up with Walt Disney Co to distribute video-on-demand Disney movies in China.
The 42-year-old chief executive officer of YOU On Demand Holdings - a joint venture with China Home Cinema - had previously obtained the rights to distribute movies from Warner Brothers, a unit of Time Warner, and from Hollywood studio Lionsgate.
The latest agreement gives McMahon’s company the rights to offer what it called “officially approved” Disney films both under subscription or through individual transactions, where movies are rented by consumers who watch them on their TV sets.
“We are very proud to work with The Walt Disney Company in bringing the best in home entertainment to China,” McMahon said in a statement.
YOU On Demand currently offers movies on demand to 3 million subscribers in China, McMahon said in an interview in Los Angeles, and expects to increase that to 11 million by the end of the year.
The company expects to announce other deals with studios in the coming weeks, he also said.
McMahon joined YOU On Demand in 2010 after a 21-year career at World Wrestling Entertainment, where he started as a referee and later entered the ring as a wrestler. At one point, he appeared onscreen in a scripted role as a rival wrestling promoter who tried to steal wrestlers from his father.
Offscreen, McMahon rose through the ranks at WWE and in 1998 helped create the company’s digital media division. He was executive vice-president of WWE Global Media from 1993 to 2010 and oversaw international TV distribution, event books and digital media in overseas markets.
“The opportunity to pioneer the pay TV industry in the largest market in the world - that was sexy to me,” said McMahon.