Vince McMahon and members of senior management served as the hosts of a conference call pertaining to the 2016 third quarter financial report that was released on October 27, 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.
-Vince said they remain “very bullish” regarding WWE Network. Vince said he believes the brand extension is working well as far as television ratings are concerned. He said Smackdown Live is about 16 percent above what they were doing when the taped show aired on Thursdays. Vince boasted that they had 11.5 billion content views in the first nine months of the year. He said outlets such as ESPN are picking up on that and the value of the WWE brand.
-George Barrios read through the financial report presentation. Barrios coughed at one point. Vince didn’t say anything, but you know he immediately thought Barrios was a weak man.
-The opened the lines for phone calls.
-A caller asked about the three to four million subscriber hope and the current number. Barrios pointed to year over year growth. He said the product, the content, and the marketing will keep getting better, but there will be ebbs an flows.
-The next caller asked about recent surveys that brought up tiered pricing options. Barrios said they are always talking to their audience about a variety of things including content and incremental value. He said he wouldn’t read too much into it, as they are trying to find out what the audience finds valuable.
-A caller asked about subscriber growth in 2017. Barrios said they wouldn’t offer additional guidance on that at this time. The caller asked if there are any areas where they are not generating the type of growth they hoped for and whether they are considering the idea of pulling back. Barrios spoke about how the success of investments is measured via different time frames and they have put additional people on the ground in different markets. He cited German television viewership as an example of this.
-A caller asked when they start discussions regarding TV deals and whether they are confident they can maintain what they have today. Barrios said the domestic deal expires in September of 2019, the UK and Indian deals expire at the end of 2019.
-Vince was asked why it doesn’t make sense to sell and be part of a larger media company. Vince said they like that they control their own destiny. Vince said they are open to everything. “We’re business people,” McMahon said. “We’re listening.” Vince emphasized, “We’re open for business” twice.
-A caller asked about overseas content that they could bring back to the United States. Barrios said they are localizing more and more. He said they won’t make any announcements today, but he said two years from now you’ll be able to look back and say that WWE did some interesting things in local markets.
-The next caller noted that they did not launch in any additional countries in this quarter. He asked about plans to accelerate growth internationally. Barrios said there are no countries left aside from China. He said they are still working on the best way to get their content to their Chinese viewers. He spoke about how their events, particularly WrestleMania, are drivers of growth.
-The next caller was the second parson to bring up the AT&T/Time Warner deal and how it affects the industry. Barrios spoke about content and how they feel they bring a ton of value when they license their content. Barrios said they are the creators and owners of content, and they feel that puts them in a good position. “We feel good about where we stand,” Barrios said.
-The caller asked about the partnership with NBCU and whether they can do more than just a television distribution deal. Barrios said they look at television partners as more just licensing their content and moving away. He brought up WrestleMania in Orlando and said stay tuned in terms of what they intend to do with NBCU around that.
-The caller asked about a stock exchange with Comcast/NBCU. Barrios recalled Vince saying they are open for business.
-The caller said it becomes tougher to add subscribers once you reach a certain point. He brought up essentially giving prizes to long term subscribers. Barrios said that if he didn’t know the caller better, he would think that he was applying for a job in marketing. Barrios said they are considering various approaches and spoke about simplicity being important.
-The next caller asked about the decline in the third and fourth quarters. Barrios said everyone has theories. “It’s more just based on the data,” he said.
-A caller asked if there’s a bundling opportunities with MLB Advanced Media. Barrios praised MLBAM and said this goes outside MLBAM and whether it makes sense. He said they have looked at various opportunities. He said they are smarter because of the network because they can look at many different things when they look at the viewing habits of network viewers. This was the final question of the call.
Powell’s POV: I was hoping that someone would bring up FloSports. It would have been interesting to hear WWE comment on the group they invested in and how it could be a competitor to their own network. Overall, the tone of the call was very positive in terms of what Vince and Barrios had to say. Jake Barnett and I will discuss the call and all the news of a crazy week later today in the member exclusive Dot Net Weekly audio show.