2/9 WWE Conference Call: Vince McMahon discusses the fourth quarter financial report


Vince McMahon and members of senior management served as the hosts of a conference call pertaining to the 2016 fourth quarter financial report that was released on February 9, 2017. 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 McMahon noted that the revenue is the highest in company history. He said international revenue was also the highest in company history. He said they are super serving their audience. He mentioned 205 Live and said it will have its own sources of revenue such as live events and merchandising. He also mentioned the UK Title Tournament and said that was an effort to localize more talent and more content for the United Kingdom.

-Vince spoke about the hours of content consumed by their subscribers and said there are a lot of people who are watching nothing more than WWE Network.

-George Barrios took listeners through the highlights of the earnings report presentation. He noted that they have reached “blue chip” advertisers and said that Snickers will once again be the sponsor for WrestleMania.

-Barrios noted that roughly 40 percent of their WWE Performance Center recruits came from outside the United States.

-Barrios noted that they will be releasing the next WWE Network subscriber count the day after WrestleMania.

-They opened up the phone lines. The first caller asked about metrics around the “WWE UK pay-per-view event” and how it helped with sub growth for the network and whether there was any increase throughout Europe. The caller asked how soon they want to continue building on what they started and whether they will do a show with Sky or on the network. Barrios said it did well in subs and engagement. He said they saw an uptick in the UK and around the world. He said it goes back to what Vince said about super serving their most passionate fans. “One of the things we’ve learned, they’ll consume just about everything we throw at them,” Barrios said.

-The caller asked for more details about a potential television show and follow up. Vince said they are already paying dividends. He said they are considering a weekly television show, but they have not announced anything yet. He said their partners are interested and he dubbed the tournament “highly successful.”

-A caller asked about the strategy of offering a three month free trial for the network. Barrios labeled it experimentation.

-The next caller asked about live events and whether they will continue to grow the number of events, and why the fourth quarter live events seemed less profitable. Barrios said they will be doing more live events. He noted that the brand extension led to the doing live events on Monday nights (Smackdown shows). He noted that they increased their marketing spending, and said profits were affected by the timing of the Royal Rumble.

-A caller noted that they very accurately predicted the network sub growth last year. He said the guidance for this year seems to imply no growth for February or March. Barrios said they didn’t really predict the sub levels. He said the subs came within the five percent they guided and he didn’t want to take credit for predicting it. He said they are not being conservative with the first quarter predictions.

-The caller asked about their bundling with Crunchyroll. He also asked about third parties selling the network. Barrios said they would not get into commenting on individual promotions. As for Amazon and other third parties, he said their perspective comes down to economics, the sharing of the customer information, and the sharing of consumption. He said they are starting to see all the immense value of having that information. He said they would do deals where they don’t get those three pieces of information.

-The caller asked which international markets perform the best. Barrios wouldn’t get into specifics, but he noted that they took a slow rollout approach to international.

-Vince was asked about how many markets they could perform something similar to the UK Title tournament. Vince said they can do a lot more live events and growth of specific talents to specific countries. He said this is their first venture toward tapping into that. He praised Paul Levesque for attracting talent from across the world.

-Barrios addressed a question about increasing ad revenue for the network. He said they believe the best approach is to super serve the audience. He said he doesn’t expect the advertising to increase on the network.

-The caller asked about whether they are going to do anything extra to bring subscribers in for WrestleMania. Barrios mentioned the 30-day free trial for new subscribers. He said they will continue to experiment.

-The next caller asked about fan interest and momentum heading into WrestleMania. He noted that there were a lot of injuries going into the show and there were questions about whether it would be a quality show. He said it turned out to be a good show. He noted that Goldberg seems to be driving a lot of excitement. Vince said there’s no one talent responsible. He spoke about a mix of talent and storylines. Vince said he thinks they have more momentum and fewer injuries this year. He said the lack of injuries gives them a bigger talent pool to deal with.

-The caller asked whether the brand extension has been a success, and he asked about TV ratings and future TV deals. Vince said the brand extension has been a success just as they thought it would be. He said there is crossover, but they are also bringing in new viewers for Smackdown. He spoke of fresh talent. He used Roman Reigns as an example, noting that he hasn’t appeared on Smackdown, but it will be a big deal when and if he does. He also spoke about how it provides more opportunities and “other stars to climb the ladder of success.” Vince also pointed to multiple touring brands, and said it gives them more flexibility. Vince also said going live has led to an increase, whereas Raw ratings have declined and compared that to NFL ratings dipping.

-Barrios spoke about how they have been doing better localization of the pay-per-view events by making them available with foreign commentary available a few hours after the broadcast. He noted that the Spanish feed can be heard live. He said that will continue to grow. They wrapped up the call moments later.

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