WWE First Quarter Earnings Call Highlights – Tough Enough Returning, Vince Talks, Network, More
May 1, 2014 - by Marc Middleton
– WWE held the call for their first quarter 2014 financial results this morning with SVP Financial Planning & Investor Relations Michael Weitz, Chief Strategy & Financial Officer George Barrios and Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon. Below are highlights:
* Michael Weitz welcomes us to the call and gives a brief introduction.
* Vince McMahon is up next. Vince touts with Network subscriptions and pay-per-view buys, WrestleMania did over 1 million buys. He says the Network has been well-received by fans and industry experts. They are still confident they will reach 1 million subscribers by the end of the year. He talks about new Xbox One and other new providers adding the Network. They will be announcing the new TV deal in “several weeks” and are currently in negotiations in India. He talks about Germany turning out to be a better market than it has in the past. He touts Slam City, Scooby-Doo and Oculus, as well as partnerships with Pepsi, General Mills and other brands. Vince seemed to say a lot less than usual.
* George Barrios is up next to go over financials. The first quarter was highlighted by the launch of the WWE Network. Barrios touts the Network features and says it’s like Netflix, just better. They expect a gradual ramp-up over time when it comes to new subscribers. They still expect to hit 1 million by the year’s end, then 2 and 3 million as it grows.
* Barrios mentions Tough Enough will be coming to the Network. No word if it will be a new season of older seasons but he mentioned it when talking about creating new content.
* They have new Network features like bookmarks and playlists that will be rolled out in the future.
* The Network brought in $4.4 million in subscription revenue at the end of the quarter but there was over a $1 million loss in pay-per-view revenue.
* TV revenue was up thanks mostly to Total Divas. WWE Studios revenue was up mostly thanks to The Call. Scooby-Doo and Oculus are delivering strong performances that are in line with expectations.
* Live event revenue was up from the previous year’s quarter due in part to a rise in ticket prices and new VIP packages.
* The Network launch resulted in an $8.6 million loss.
* They continue to be involved in TV negotiations and were not taking questions on the matter today.
* They expect a $7-$10 million loss for the second quarter of this year.
* They are confident that longterm Network growth will turn everything around.
* The Q&A is up next.
* They’re not sure which providers will or will not carry their pay-per-views in the future.
* A shareholder asked how much money they plan on spending on non-wrestling programming such as Legends House. Barrios wouldn’t go into specifics on costs of non in-ring shows but he touted the success of Legends House on the Network so far.
* They were asked how many original shows they will plan on having by the end of the year. Barrios just named Tough Enough, a new season of WWE Countdown and The Monday Night War.
* They were asked if they would consider selling equity in the WWE Network to a partner, possibly letting someone like Viacom buy a stake. Barrios says they are business people and would be open to anything if it made sense but said they place a very high value on the Network.
* A shareholder asked about subscriber renewals for the Network and Barrios said they’re not saying anything public about it.
* Weitz thanks everyone for coming and that’s it for the call.