8/16 WWE Conference Call report: WWE executives discuss the second quarter financial report, Vince McMahon’s departure

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

WWE executives hosted a conference call pertaining to the WWE second quarter financial report that was released on August 16, 2022 at Corporate.WWE.com. The following are the highlights of the call. Refresh the page for the latest updates.

-The call was hosted by WWE Chairwoman and Co-CEO Stephanie McMahon, WWE Co-CEO Nick Khan, WWE head of creative and talent Paul Levesque, and WWE Chief Financial Officer Frank Riddick. WWE Senior VP of Investor Relations Seth Zaslow read through the legalities and then turned things over to Stephanie for the opening statement.

-Stephanie stated that her father Vince McMahon retired after forty years with the company. She said her father and mother poured their hearts and souls into building the company. She said the company had succession plans in place, and it’s her pleasure to guide the company along with Co-CEO Khan, as well as Levesque. She spoke about the three of them working together on the last round of television negotiations while Khan was still working as an agent.

-Stephanie spoke about the second quarter and raising their initial guidance. She listed some of the highlights of the company’s quarter, including increases in television viewership, boasting specifically about the August 2 edition of Raw that followed SummerSlam. Stephanie also touted WWE’s Sunday block of programming on A&E, and the company’s social media popularity. Stephanie said she has spent her life around the company and has a deep respect for it. Stephanie turned over the call to Nick Khan.

-Khan spoke about various revenue streams including NFTs, Undertaker’s one-man show, and premium live events. He noted that over 45,000 tickets have been sold for WWE Clash at the Castle, and said the company will return to Saudi Arabia on November 5. Khan said the company remains as confident as ever as they prepare for renewals of their television rights deals. Khan also recalled predicting that Netflix would start live streaming and noted that they confirmed this by placing a bid on Formula 1 content. He also spoke about other streamers and said the NFL Sunday Ticket rights are expected to go to a streaming service. Khan touted the importance of live sports programming and how WWE fits in. Khan turned the call over to Paul Levesque.

-Levesque said he’s had the good fortune of working in the business for over thirty years. He said he always wanted to learn the details on what they did behind the scenes. He said his new role leading creative and talent comes with great responsibility. Levesque said it’s early, but he believes there have been early signs of the momentum they are building. Levesque spoke about the SummerSlam main event and how Brock Lesnar tipped the ring on its side. Levesque said they want to continue to create those moments and memories that will last a lifetime. Levesque also touted the NIL program and said the talent pipeline is as strong as it has ever been. Levesque noted that over 90,000 tickets were sold for WrestleMania 39 on the first day of ticket sales for the Sofi Stadium event. He said they have sold roughly 80 percent of the tickets for a show that will be held never April without even a single match advertised. Levesque turned things over to Frank Riddick.

-Riddick read through the financial presentation. They opened up the phone lines for questions.

-The second day rights for Raw and Smackdown was brought up and whether they would be better off waiting. Khan spoke about a delicate balance and figuring things out. The caller also asked about sponsorship for major events. Stephanie said they have seen an increase and they project growth throughout the year, “though not a ton of growth.”

-When it comes to television rights, Khan said they like to make accessibility easy. He said they felt that Formula 1 was smart to stay with their incombant rather than take more money via streaming, but he said they would take everything into consideration.

-A caller asked Levesque about changing the product and what fans can look forward to. Levesque said he thinks the opportunity is massive. He said he’s approaching it from a first day by evaluating what is working and what is not working. He said it all comes down to creating iconic characters and putting them into storylines and watching how fans react to it along the way. Levesque said it’s an opportunity to engage with the stars they have and to create new stars and to create the platform for them to become even bigger.

-The caller noted that Stephanie spoke about being committed to WWE and yet is coming off a leave of absence. The caller asked about her long term commitment and how important it is to stay in her family business. Stephanie spoke about working in the company since she was eight years-old. She said she loves the business. She said she took a leave due to the grueling schedule. She said she got about three weeks away. She said she was not forced to return, she offered. Stephanie said she believes in the business to her core. She said Vince is still very much the controlling shareholder and still has his eyes on maximizing the business. She said they will properly evaluate any opportunities with their eye on doing that.

-The next caller asked about maximizing the streaming value via the second day rights. He also asked if the event would be as profitable as the events they’ve run in Saudi Arabia. Khan spoke about talking with existing partners Fox, NBCU, and Peacock first. He said live continues to deliver. Khan said they feel it’s possible to do both linear and streaming unless someone comes in and wants exclusive rights. “There’s a lot to unpack and we’re in the middle of unpacking it,” Khan said. Meanwhile, Riddick said they expect the Cardiff event to be very profitable, though not as profitable as WrestleMania.

-A caller asked about spending on the new company headquarters and how many international events there would be this year. Riddick said projections on the spending for the new company headquarters hasn’t changed. Regarding international live events, he said they are looking at expanding international live events and are considering the possibility of adding an international premium live events. He spoke about the success they have had with live events in Germany and France.

-The subject of global media rights and improving ratings in overseas markets was brought up by a caller. Khan said the ratings in the UK are very strong and that’s one of the reasons they are holding the Cardiff event. He said he expects increases leading into the event and coming out of the event. He spoke briefly about other markets.

-They told the operator they would take one final call. The caller asked about how the business would respond to recession. Riddick addressed the question and spoke about how they are set up differently today compared to 2008, while adding that they have yet to see an effect at this point. They wrapped up the conference call after taking one final call.

Powell’s POV: Stephanie faced the toughest and yet a totally fair question about her commitment to the company following her leave of absence. Otherwise, the callers were pretty tame despite the Vince McMahon investigation and all of the changes that it has triggered.

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