The following are the highlights of the WWE Conference Call that was held on April 4 regarding the new WWE Network subscriber count coming out of WrestleMania 32.
-WWE Chief Strategy and Financial Officer George Barrios hosted the call. Vince McMahon was not present. Barrios touted the 1.45 million paid WWE Network subscribers through WrestleMania 32, and the 1.824 million total subscribers, which combines paid and those taking advantage of the free trial.
-They opened the line for questions once Barrios finished reading a brief presentation. A man could be heard yelling “F—” over his phone. Apparently, the caller didn’t get the PG memo. He topped Vince McMahon once saying “Shit” when he thought he had been disconnected from a previous conference call when it turned out that Barrios had actually been disconnected and Vince was still on the line.
-Barrios spoke about how they have some plans to improve the navigation of the network later in the year.
-A caller asked for a breakdown of domestic and international ads listed in the presentation. Barrios noted it was actually the number of subscribers, not the ads. He said the ads vary. She asked if they peak more in the UK for ads of if it’s more across the board. Barrios said the UK is the second largest market behind the U.S., but they have seen improvements across the board.
-The next caller asked about the decision to include WrestleMania in the free trial. Barrios said everyone offers some sort of free trial. He said it’s the best way for everyone to come in and see if the network or other services are right for them. He said once they saw it worked, then there was no reason not to continue on. He said they perform well in retention.
-A caller asked about new markets for the network in 2016. Barrios said the network is available in all markets other than China, but they hope to announce their strategy for China soon.
-The next caller asked about piracy of the network. The caller breathed into the phone while Barrios spoke. Barrios said they know piracy happens to some degree. He said there is account sharing, but they don’t think it’s material. He said that as far as the ability to gain the system, he wouldn’t say it’s impossible, but it’s pretty difficult to do it. He says their data says it’s not material.
-A caller asked if they have considered the China market into their hypotheticals for 2016. He said they have not, but they have listed what would happen if they happen to increase 25 percent “so I’ll answer your question that way.”
-The next caller brought up traditional pay-per-view buys and the degradation of pay-per-view. Barrios said they haven’t been public about what they think happens to pay-per-view over time, but they have had discussions. They wrapped up the call shortly thereafter.
Powell’s POV: Let me stress that I pay for my network subscription every month, but I know from listening to readers that it’s not nearly as difficult to pirate as Barrios claimed. Of course, I don’t expect him to promote that publicly. It’s a real sore spot for some vocal subscribers who want to do the right thing, yet also feel frustration that others are getting away with what they equate to cheating the system. My take continues to be that if the company that is collecting the revenue doesn’t seem to care, then neither do I. Perhaps more questions about the piracy on future calls will lead the company to tightening things up.
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