By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Vince McMahon served as the host of a conference call pertaining to the 2020 second quarter financial report that was released on July 30, 2020 at Corporate.WWE.com. The following are the highlights of the call. Refresh the page for the latest updates.
-The call was hosted by Vince McMahon and interim CFO Frank Riddick. WWE Senior VP of Investor Relations Michael Weitz read through the legalities and then turned it over to Vince.
-Vince said they had strong financial results despite the challenging times. He touted the digital content user numbers as well as the free version of WWE Network and the hope that it leads to free users subscribing to the network.
-Vince also praised Frank Riddick for the job he did as the interim CFO while also noting the hiring of Kristina Salen as the new CFO.
-Riddick read through the earnings presentation. He noted that there’s no telling when they will be able to host fans at their events due to the pandemic. He said they have offset the loss of ticket sales by scaling back in other areas.
-They opened the lines for callers. The first caller noted that the television ratings have been soft. He asked Vince how concerned he is about the ratings and the strategy to turn things around. Vince spoke of audience interaction being a factor, perhaps more than in any other sport. He said the audience is integral. Vince spoke of how they can have better characters and storylines and introduce new characters. He also mentioned the idea of doing more content with the talent outside the ring.
-A caller asked about the network and bringing in new content and international offerings. He asked about investing and improving the network product if they opt to keep the pay-per-view rights. Vince called in an executive named Jayar Donlan to answer. Donlan spoke about the Last Ride and Ruthless Aggression series, doing more with advertising, and improving the user experience.
-The caller asked if a decision has been made regarding the Saudi Arabia show scheduled for later this year. Vince said the decision has not been made, but he doubts it will happen given where things are with their economy.
-A caller asked about their stock buy back program, which they stated earlier may resume. Riddick spoke of their analysis suggesting it’s a good opportunity for them.
-Donlan answered a question about WWE Network numbers improving. He cited their series, cinematic matches, and other content. Vince emphasized that they didn’t hurt themselves by going to the free model from the 30-day free trial.
-A caller asked Vince why AEW and NXT have been able to bounce back better from the initial COVID-19 shock compared to Raw and Smackdown. He also asked Vince if he abandoned the plan for featuring new talent and whether that changed when Paul Heyman was fired. He questioned why Heyman was fired. He also asked if Paul Levesque could be helpful with Raw and Smackdown.
-Vince said they need to make Raw and Smackdown feel new like the others. He said Paul Levesque helps out with Raw and Smackdown. With Heyman, Vince said he did a very good job in creative, and they are always trying to develop new characters.
-A caller asked if the new CFO will have her hand in company strategy or stick to traditional CFO duties. Riddick spoke of it as a broad role that will include strategy.
-The next caller asked about recapturing the audience that’s been lost. Vince said it will take months rather than years. He said the main factor is getting the audience back at events.
-A caller asked for comment about the acquisition of the Evolve brand. Riddick said it was a content purchase deal that was very small in size in terms of the investment.
-Vince said they are looking at options for running outside the WWE Performance Center, but he didn’t offer any additional details. There was also a question about additional Performance Centers being built outside the U.S. and UK. Riddick cited the pandemic as the reason they are not expanding at this time. They wrapped up the call shortly thereafter.
Powell’s POV: Vince came off like he was going through the motions and offered the bare minimum when it came to the interesting questions regarding Heyman and Levesque. He also came off like he believes that the creative end of the product is fine and the real problem is that they can’t have fans in attendance. I suspect that many fans would disagree with his assessment of the creative work even if everyone agrees that it’s obviously better to have fans present.
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