WWE News: 10/31 Vince McMahon conference call coverage: WWE Network, SummerSlam disappoints, television rights negotiations, third quarter financial report

Oct 31, 2013 - 10:00 AM

Vince McMahon and members of senior management hosted a conference call pertaining to the 2013 third quarter report that was released on October 31, 2013. The following are the highlights of the call.

-The call was hosted by WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, WWE CFO George Barrios, and WWE Investor Relations Michael Weitz.

-Vince said the increased television rights fees offset the "disappointing" SummerSlam numbers and video game sales. Regarding SummerSlam, Vince said fans "didn't buy the attraction, as most of you know these events are attraction driven."

-Vince said they are looking for "traditional and non-traditional distribution" for the WWE Network.

-Vince said their largest television contracts are coming up both in the United States and in the United Kingdom. He said India is coming up shortly thereafter.

-Barrios took over the call temporarily and read through the financial presentation. He noted that revenue increased nine percent and said it was largely due to increased licensing fees and to some extent live events.

-Barrios said "Total Divas" has averaged roughly 1.8 million viewers per week. He noted that it performed 150 percent better than the programming it replaced on E! network.

-Revenue from the pay-per-view business was down ten percent "primarily due to the performance of the SummerSlam event." This is despite the fact that WWE added new digital media platforms for their pay-per-view events, such as Playstation 3.

-The movies released under WWE Studios new film model are expected to bring a 13 percent return.

-Barrios said the company is confident that they can double or triple their 2012 results by 2015 via future television agreements and the WWE Network. He said their key domestic television deals are expected to be done by "next April."

-Barrios compared WWE to live sports. He said the similarities make WWE "DVR-proof."

-Barrios also spoke briefly about the potential WWE Network platforms, then opened up the line for calls.

-The first caller noted that the domestic television deals are expected to be finalized by April 2014 and whether they will maintain their current relationships or end up elsewhere. He questioned whether WWE Vince said there is a certain exclusive negotiating window for current partners that ends on the first of the year. He said they can go outside to other potential partners after that. Barrios said the timeline they are offering is typical for television rights negotiations.

-Vince was asked about the pay-per-view numbers. He once again stressed that pay-per-views are attraction driven. He said it was a "swing and a miss" as far as the attraction they went with. He said the declining numbers really don't have to do with anything other than that.

-Vince closed out the conference call by wishing everyone a good say and saying, "The future looks bright."

-It didn't seem like Vince realized he was still on the line, as could be heard saying, "As Daniel Bryan would say..." There was laughter in the room. One of the three men mentioned something about it being "the shortest" and said no one would have saw it coming.

Powell's POV: It seemed as though the talk at the end was the me referring to the one and only call they received. The lack of calls was probably attributable to WWE either not putting the call-in information on their corporate website or not making it as easily accessible as they normally do. No WWE Network launch date was given despite a lot of speculation that could occur in the conference call today. I didn't expect that announcement to come in this conference call simply because I expect WWE to do something more grandiose once they do make the announcement, and you'd think they would want the total focus to be on the launch of the network rather than all of the other things they discussed here. That said, Stephanie McMahon did state yesterday that it is expected to be launched in the first quarter of 2014, so that announcement appears to be coming sooner rather than later.

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