Recap from WWE’s Earnings Call: Vince Comments on Rumble Twitter Controversy, Network Content, More

Feb 12, 2015 - by Marc Middleton

– Vince McMahon and other senior members of WWE management will be hosting an earnings call from WWE headquarters in Stamford this morning at 11am. The call starts with Michael Weitz, SVP Financial Planning & Investor Relations. Weitz gives a brief introduction before handing the call over to Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon.

* Weitz welcomes us and gives an introduction.

* Vince tells us good morning and talks about Network and TV ratings increases. Vince touts social media followers being up 85% from the same quarter in the previous year. He also touts their YouTube views, saying they’re the #1 sports channel on YouTube now. Vince also talks about WWE App growth and says everything is in support of the Network. He talks about subscriber increases, which were detailed in the earnings release. Vince talks about the Network and hands it over to Barrios.

* Barrios says 4th quarter results surpassed their expectations. He talks about new features on the Network and how they’ve added new subscribers. They still expect a gradual subscriber increase over time as consumer awareness grows. He talked about the Network expanding internationally. He said the UK and Ireland became their second biggest market almost overnight. Barrios said other international markets that they won’t be in by the end of this year will be worked on at a later date.

* Barrios talked about how the live NXT specials helped with growth. He also bragged on Steve Austin’s live podcasts, saying they were two of the most watched Network shows ever, and said they’re working on having more live specials and working on more exclusive content like talk shows. He talked about revenue increases and other financial data that was detailed in the earnings release.

* Barrios talked about some projects WWE came out with in the last year and talks about their reach on social media and with the WWE App. They expect more growth all across the board next year.

* It’s time for the Q&A. Barrios was asked how they monitor to make sure fans who previously used a free month of WWE Network don’t sign up for another free month. We’ve heard of many fans being able to do this but Barrios said they have some tools in place to check for this but didn’t go into details.

* A caller asked to compare the WWE fanbase to UFC/MMA and asked about WWE signing talents from the MMA world to help bring some of those fans together. He didn’t answer the second part but said WWE is all about multi-generational family viewing and that’s different from MMA audiences.

* Barrios was asked about the budget for WWE Network content and feature films in 2015. Fixed costs for the Network will be about the same as last year but the films budget will be between $20 and $30 million.

* A caller asks Vince about Twitter controversy and the #CancelWWENetwork hashtag after the Royal Rumble, asking if it’s good or bad for them. Vince says it’s good for WWE because it created controversy. Vince said it was like “Santa Claus didn’t come” to some fans for the Rumble. Vince mocked fans who say they’re never watching again, saying he knows the fan will be glued to the TV next week.

* Barrios wouldn’t comment on Network advertising revenue. Barrios took a few more questions before wrapping it up.

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