5/10 WWE Conference Call: Vince McMahon discusses the first quarter financial report

vince1Vince McMahon and members of senior management served as the hosts of a conference call pertaining to the 2016 first quarter financial report that was released on May 10, 2016. The following are the highlights of the call. Refresh the page for the latest updates.

-The call is hosted by WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, WWE Chief Strategy and Financial Officer George Barrios, and WWE Investor Relations Michael Weitz.

-It was emphasized that WrestleMania occurred in the second quarter this year compared to last year.

-Vince said the earnings revenue was “pretty good.” He praised the WWE Network number through WrestleMania and the “brand equity of WrestleMania” while noting that they broke their attendance record. Vince said the majority of the tickets were sold when they put them on sale.

-Vince spoke about new network content. He said Camp WWE is doing “extremely well” on the VOD side. He also touted the Holy Foley show and Total Bellas. Vince also boasted of their success on social media and once again labeled it the strength of the brand.

-Vince said they were able to make “chicken salad” out of the injuries they suffered heading into WrestleMania. He mentioned Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt, and John Cena among the returning stars. He said they have introduced 13 new talents and said it speaks to the strength of the NXT brand.

-Barrios read through the earnings report presentation. He said they held the call later than usual to get a better feel for the conversion rate of network subscribers. He said the WrestleMania time conversion is on pace with what they have done in the past, and he projected 1.5 million paid subscribers for the second quarter. Once Barrios concluded with the report, they opened up the phone lines for calls.

-A caller asked about how they intend to market the network in international markets and how it will compare to domestic. He also asked about a survey that listed $12.99 for the network price with next day Raw and Smackdown replays. Barrios disputed the idea that this was the first time they marketed the network globally. As for the survey and price point, he said they are constantly surveying their audience and testing different things. He declined to comment on any specific contracts and what rights they have. Barrios went on to say that they have always tiered their content.

-Barrios said about 20 percent of their subscriber count comes from outside the U.S.

-A caller asked why so many wrestlers have been hurt lately, and she brought up the “NFL concussion” issue. Vince said they always have injuries and they are more visible now than ever. He said most injuries require 3-4 months of recovery time. He said there’s nothing riskier about what they are doing. He said they manage concussion issues better than and are way ahead of everybody else and he said they feel good about that.

-The caller brought up the difference between $60 pay-per-view buys for WrestleMania compared to those who order the network. She questioned whether those who took advantage of the free month for WrestleMania will stick around for six months. Barrios said that if the growth stopped today, it would be about twice the size of the old pay-per-view model. He said it’s a better business today than what they had. He said they can make it an incredibly better business with growth.

-The caller asked how many pay-per-view buyers there were for quarter one. Barrios said the only generated about $2 million for pay-per-view in quarter one (WrestleMania was not included).

-A caller asked about network engagement and consumption for live programming and taped programming. Barrios went back to a previous update on network consumption. Barrios said they get a lot of live viewers for live events, whereas they get a lot of VOD consumers if an event is not live.

-The caller asked about Total Bellas and whether it was considered in their previous deal with NBCU or if it was opportunistic. Barrios said it’s more on the latter.

-A caller brought up Shane McMahon’s current role and his long term role. He also asked about the network and China. Vince said Shane came back as a talent and has done “extremely well.” Barrios said they have a long way to go and they are in the early days as far as China. He said it’s the one market where China is not available presently. He said they are working to figure out what the right model is for China.

-A caller asked for the traditional pay-per-view buyrate for WrestleMania. Barrios said it was between 900,000 and 1.2 million buys.

-The caller asked for a breakdown of domestic and international for Youtube. Barrios said anywhere between 70 and 80 percent is coming outside the United States.

-The caller asked about Tapout and their deal with JC Penny. He asked for the economic opportunities. Barrios said Tapout is one of the investments they made. Barrios said they are excited and they think it’s a great fit for their audience.

-The caller asked about the returning stars and whether it will have a positive effect on the network numbers and retention as the year goes on. Vince said there’s always a blend of “more established talent and new talent.” Vince said it’s stronger than normal with returning stars and new stars being created. Barrios said they are sticking with their previously mentioned guidance.

-The caller brought up the high number listed for social media outside the U.S. She questioned why she should care about social media economically when it doesn’t bring in much revenue. Barrios said it’s huge to be able to have their content viewed, and he spoke to network growth coming from social media. Barrios said it’s not directly tied to social, he said it’s about engagement. Barrios said he struggles when people don’t understand that. “It’s huge for us,” Barrios said. “Strategically it’s huge.”

-Another caller said that if 80 percent of the engagement on social media and longer form content, why isn’t the network eventually 80 percent international. Barrios said it’s a great question and it’s about time. He said a country like India consumes the social media, but the network is not. He mentioned broadband. He said they know that the network won’t be as big in India as pay TV, etc. will be presently. He spoke to the long term growth potential. He said they are focussed on the long term. The caller asked if the eventual international count could be 80 percent. Barrios said the math they have done is 20-30 percent.

-Weitz closed out the call.

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