2/4 WWE Conference Call report: Vince McMahon and WWE executives discusses the fourth quarter and 2020 year-end financial report

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WWE executives hosted a conference call pertaining to WWE’s fourth quarter and 2020 year-end financial report that was released on February 4, 2021 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, Stephanie McMahon, and WWE Chief Financial Officer Kristina Salen, and WWE President and Chief Revenue Officer Nick Khan. WWE Senior VP of Investor Relations Michael Weitz read through the legalities and then turned it over to Vince.

-Vince said they generated strong financial results in a challenging environment. He spoke about how they have continued to produce content during the pandemic. He said there’s nothing like the ThunderDome on television. Vince also touted the deal to move WWE Network to Peacock.

-Nick Khan spoke about the Peacock deal. He said the entire WWE Network and its content move to Peacock on March 18. He emphasized that the deal includes all of the WWE pay-per-view events. He said the network will be available for $4.99 via Peacock rather than the $9.99 current cost of the network. Khan said they felt the deal with Peacock was the right deal at the right time for the company and shareholders.

-Khan also spoke about the recent WWE Superstar Spectacle event in India. He said they just learned that the event was viewed by 20 million people live on one of the Sony networks, which is five times higher than Raw and Smackdown.

-Khan spoke about WWE and Latin America. He spoke of Bad Bunny’s involvement on WWE programming and how it has done on social media and in WWE merchandise sales.

-Khan mentioned WWE sending championship title belts to sports champions. He said there will be WWE title belts sold with team logos.

-Stephanie McMahon took over and spoke about Matthew McConaughey appearing in the ThunderDome, Sasha Banks appearing on season two of The Mandalorian. She also spoke about WWE Network moving to Peacock and the partnership with NBCU. She spoke about various deals that WWE has struck, including a credit card company, a beer company, and Mars/Snickers returning as the sponsor for WrestleMania for the sixth straight year.

-Kristina Salen read through the financial report. Weitz opened the phone lines for questions.

-A caller asked about the cost savings for WWE of moving WWE Network to Peacock as well as the one-time migration expenses. Salen said most of the migration costs would fall in the first quarter. She said some of the technology savings will be offset by an investments in systems that are long overdue.

-The next caller asked about how sponsorship would look with the new Peacock deal. Stephanie raved about being placed alongside The Olympics and Sunday Night Football, but no specifics were offered.

-The caller asked about moving some of the higher profile content from pay-per-view to Raw to help with the ratings. Khan said they are always looking for ratings growth and trying to exceed NBC’s expectations. Khan said they were focused on helping Peacock grow their subscriber base and are confident that they can do it.

-A caller asked Vince a question, but Khan answered it instead.

-A caller asked Khan to walk them through key revenue opportunities now that the television and streaming deals are done. Khan said there is new revenue opportunities internationally. Khan spoke of sponsorship opportunities due to the relationship with NBCU via Peacock. He mentioned the title belts with sports leagues.

-The caller asked how WWE will reverse ratings trends beyond just fans returning. Khan said they don’t believe they’ve lost eyeballs, they’ve merely shifted platforms. He also said a lot of people were focused on the U.S. Presidential race and there’s been interest in the pandemic, but they feel good coming out of that.

-Khan answered a question by raving about NBC. He spoke about the next three WrestleMania dates and locations being announced during NBC’s coverage of an NFL playoff game. He said it went viral and they feel great about it. He said there will be more of that with NBC.

-Salen emphasized that there is no up charge for pay-per-view events via Peacock. Khan jumped in with praise for Fox, specifically mentioning the WWE Backstage episode that aired the night before the Royal Rumble and topped one million viewers.

-A caller asked how NBC Sports Network closing will affect WWE with some of the network’s content moving to USA Network. Khan said they believe it won’t have any impact on WWE. He specifically said he doesn’t expect it to have an impact on Raw or NXT.

-The next caller asked about the possibility of Raw and Smackdown moving to a digital platform. Khan said they are open to all platforms. He mentioned the possibility of Thursday Night Football potentially moving to Amazon’s streaming service. The call closed shortly thereafter.

Powell’s POV: It’s odd that Vince seemed to disappear. It’s not uncommon for him to have one of the executives answer questions even if a caller requests for him to answer it, but he usually acknowledges that he’s deferring to one of the executives. Meanwhile, I was wondering if someone would remember to show Fox some love. They spent a lot of time raving about NBCU and Peacock, and then Khan jumped in unprompted at one point to praise their partnership with Fox. Khan’s claim that WWE hasn’t lost eyeballs despite the ratings declining sounds nice on a corporate conference call, but it’s not an excuse that NBCU, Fox, or other potential television partners will want to hear. Finally, while things can always change, it was interesting that Khan stated that he does not believe Raw or NXT will be affected by NBC Sports Network content moving to USA Network. It was hard to imagine Raw being impacted, but NXT on Wednesday nights felt less certain.

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