WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, Chief Strategy and Financial Officer George Barrios and SVP Financial Planning & Investor Relations Michael Weitz are hosting a Third Quarter 2016 earnings call today from WWE headquarters in Stamford.
* Weitz opens the call with the usual introduction. Vince takes over next and touts revenue that was announced earlier. He says they remain very bullish on their longterm opportunities and with the WWE Network expanding. He touts the subscribers. Regarding TV ratings, Vince says the brand extension continues to work very well. He says SmackDown going live is doing about twice the ratings it was doing a year ago and numbers are also up from the taped shows. Vince says NBCUniversal has secured 50 new blue-chip advertisers and they feel that’s a good sign. He touts international expansion in Germany and several billion video views online, a 71% increase from the same period in 2015. He calls that extraordinary. He mentions ESPN and other sites picking them up, saying everyone is recognizing their value and taking advantage of it
* Barrios takes over next and goes over the numbers that were announced this morning. TV revenue was down some because they had Total Divas and Tough Enough airing in the same period last year. They now have 4x the amount of WWE Network content they had when the Network launched. They continue to spend on production and new content. Licensing revenue was done some because of a lower royalty rate with the WWE 2K17 video game as they no longer get a flat rate for the game. They continue to become more digital, more global and more direct to consumer every day. They expect another record year of revenue in 2017 with increases in WWE Network subscribers and TV deals
* One investor asks about a recent Fan Council survey where they asked about potential price points for the Network. Barrios says they’re always talking to their audience to see what kind of content they are interested in, what kind of services would be of value to them and more. Barrios says he wouldn’t read too much into it, it’s just part of running the business and keeping connected to the audience to see what they find valuable
* Another caller asked about a potential sale of the company, mentioning the recent UFC sale and the Time Warner – AT&T merger. Vince spoke up and said they are open to anything but controlling their destiny is very important. He’s not sure how much control you lose when you’re absorbed or bought. Vince says they are open to anything because they’re business people and they’re listening if an offer they couldn’t refuse came up. He said they are focused on creating their content and doing their own thing but they are open for business. The caller asked if they received an offer that would allow them to still control their own destiny, would that be attractive? Vince replied with: “We’re open for business.”
* They continue to do big social media numbers internationally and are still focused on China expansion. There’s no update on the WWE Network launching in China. Barrios teased potential announcements in Orlando next year during WrestleMania 33 week with NBCUniversal
* WWE Network bundles are still being considered and Barrios teased that we may see offers like that in the next few months. They are happy with the Network partnership with MLB.BAM and don’t seem to worried about any new influence coming from the Disney purchase