By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE executives George Barrios and Michelle Wilson hosted a conference call on April 3 to discuss the latest WWE Network subscriber count. Refresh the page for our latest updates.
-WWE Investor Relations executive Michael Weitz opened the call. He turned over the call to WWE Chief Strategy and Financial Officer George Barrios, and Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer Michelle Wilson.
-The new WWE Network paid subscriber count is 1.81 million. The overall WWE Network subscriber count (including free promotional users) is 2.12 million.
-The WWE Network paid subscriber count the day after WrestleMania 33 was 1.661 million. The overall WWE Network subscriber count (including free promotional users) for the day after WrestleMania 33 was 1.949 million.
-WWE previously announced that they had 1.471 million paid subscribers as of December 31, 2017. The overall subscriber count (including free promotional users) on December 31, 2017 was 1.547 million.
-The opened the phone lines. A caller asked about U.S. to international subscriber count. Barrios said they would do that in the quarter one financial call in a few weeks.
-The caller also asked about international markets and which markets could be localized next. Barrios spoke about doing more and more and going deeper into different markets where they speak multiple languages.
-Barrios said they don’t worry about one particular quarter or one month when it comes to their numbers. “It really is about the long term for us,” he said.
-The caller brought up the open bidding period for Raw and Smackdown. He brought up the partnership with Facebook and whether their numbers for Mixed Match Challenge have made them look at them more seriously as a partner. “Facebook more and more we keep a really close eye on it,” Barrios said.
-Wilson checked in for the first time to praise their relationship with Facebook and how they leverage that relationship to drive their other areas of business.
-The next caller congratulated them on “really great numbers” and then brought up the Saudi Arabia show and whether it will be a template for future international deals. She also noted that the hours watched on the network heading into WrestleMania increased. She asked if they have the data on who is watching and what the drivers are for engagement length building faster than sub lengths.
-Barrios said they would talk about the economics of the Greatest Royal Rumble event in quarter two. He spoke about their decision to Youtube and cited the Saudi Arabia deal being an example of their strategy with the seeds they planted in the past now beginning to blossom. He noted that 80 percent of the video footage they produced is watched outside the United States. “We view that as a huge, long tail wind for us,” he said.
-Wilson spoke about new subscribers peaking for WrestleMania and how they buy close to the event itself. She also spoke about how they are getting smarter about the content they roll out because they know what their subscribers like.
-A caller asked about the numbers being better than projected for the first quarter. Barrios said they came into the year with a lot of momentum. He said that momentum actually intensified during the quarter. He noted that live events and digital advertising was better than they expected.
-Wilson addressed a question about their marketing. She said WrestleMania was great and she spoke about Ronda Rousey debuting and Daniel Bryan returning. She said it gave them tremendous marketing opportunities, and they were able to get the message out to sports fans for Rousey’s debut. She said there’s still an opportunity to educate their television audience around the world about WWE Network. She said they did new things in retention as well.
-Wilson said the decision to return to dual brand pay-per-view events was based on what their subscribers were telling them.
-The next caller asked about tiering the network. Barrios said they believe there is an opportunity to tier the product. He said they don’t have a launch date yet, but stay tuned “because it’s coming sooner rather than later.”
-A caller asked how much of the increase of their added subscribers are new compared to returning. Barrios said they don’t report that level of details. He said they get both.
-The caller said he was looking at reviews of the event online and mentioned Rousey, but also felt that the matches that had female talent were too short. He asked about finding more airtime for the female wrestlers. Barrios said he got chills when Rousey picked up Triple H. He said he feels the sky is the limit for the female talent. Wilson said there is a lot of opportunity and they are very positive and optimistic about presenting the female talent in ways that they have not before.
-A caller brought up television deals and UFC and FOX. He asked about Conor McGregor’s situation and whether that becomes a positive for WWE. Barrios said he doesn’t see a correlation. Barrios said they focus on their end and putting smiles on people’s faces. “We don’t really have a comment on UFC and their talent,” he said.
-The caller brought up the Rousey match at WrestleMania and how his daughter said it was the greatest match she’d ever seen. He asked about the Rousey effect and if she’s open to expanding her role beyond what it is today. Barrios said he’s a data guy, but you also sprinkle it with your own intuition. He said the caller’s daughter was not alone and he heard multiple WWE fans say similar things. Rousey said the social media supports that. She said Rousey’s focus is on perfecting her in-ring ability, but additional opportunities will be a nice problem to have in time.
-The next caller brought up the ratings improving at WrestleMania and whether they are more optimistic about retention coming out of WrestleMania. Barrios spoke about the talent development and the geographically diverse places they are doing recruiting events. He said they believe that the more diverse and deeper the talent pool the better. “You are going to see more and more talent in our pipeline over time.
-They wrapped up the Q&A and Weitz ended the conference call.
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