WWE Conference Call report (2/27): TKO executives discuss the fourth quarter and full year financial report


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

TKO executives hosted a conference call pertaining to the company’s fourth quarter and full year earnings report that was released on February 27, 2024 at TKOgrp.com. The following are the highlights of the call. Refresh the page for the latest updates.

-TKO Senior VP of Investor Relations Seth Zaslow read through the legalities and then turned things over to the hosts.

-The call was hosted by CEO, Ari Emanuel, President and COO Mark Shapiro, and CFO Andrew Schleimer.

-Emanuel delivered his opening statement and touted viewership and attendance records for both UFC and WWE. He also mentioned the sponsorship deal with Anheuser-Busch and Slim Jim, as well as the new WWE media rights deal with Netflix. He said UFC has set new sponsorship records over the last six years and believes WWE has the same potential.

Emanuel spoke of UFC’s attendance highlights as well as the ratings drawn for UFC prelim fights on ESPN networks. He also mentioned the company’s television rights renewals.

Emanuel boasted about WWE’s attendance at premium live events. He said the Royal Rumble attracted a venue record of over 48,000 fans. He said they are “incredibly excited” about the Netflix deal. Emanuel also mentioned Smackdown returning to USA Network and NXT moving to the CW Network.

-Schleimer spoke of synergies between UFC and WWE. He mentioned Elimination Chamber being held in Perth, Australia and said it will increase fan engagement in the area. He also spoke of the deal the company signed with Honda Center to bring UFC and WWE events to the venue. He spoke of having $50 million to $100 million in net savings by creating more synergy between the brands. Schleimer read through the earnings report presentation.

-Schleimer said they are working on finding a home for Raw in between the time that the current deal with USA Network expires in September and the new Netflix deal starts in January. In other words, Raw won’t go dark during the fourth quarter of the year, which should not surprise anyone.

-They opened the lines for questions. The first caller asked Emanuel what excites him about bringing Raw to Netflix beyond the financial element. Emanuel said they are extremely excited about the deal. He said they are very pleased with the financials. He labeled it a transformative deal and compared it to when they made the UFC deal with ESPN+. Emanuel said the global reach of Netflix is extremely important. He mentioned the other television deals and said the PLE deal is the last remaining deal.

-Schleimer said they believe Raw will air in the fourth quarter of the year, but they warned viewers not to “assume any dollars.”

-A caller asked if they would be willing to buy the stock if a major shareholder decided to sell a lot of stock all at once. They said they would look to be opportunistic and spoke of shareholder value. Emanuel went back to touting the Netflix deal. Shapiro noted that Vince McMahon still holds 20 million shares. “He’ll do whatever he’s going to do,” the host said before adding that McMahon hasn’t offered any indication of what he intends to do with his stock.

-It was also noted that Netflix has the rights to all international deals as they become available. In other words, some markets have current deals that run past the new year, but they will eventually move to Netflix. They spoke of being excited to see Raw on the front page of Netflix.

-A caller asked how the Netflix deal affects international brand extensions such as NXT Europe. Nick Khan checked in and said global localized products have always been a priority and he feels Netflix helps them with that. He said to look for more local stars from various international markets. One of the other hosts noted that the Netflix deal does not preclude them from creating new content, but Netflix has a first look option.

-The caller asked about revenue and cost synergies when they run UFC and WWE events in the same market. They once again touted the production savings that it can create.

-Shapiro spoke about the idea of the bubble bursting for sports media rights, but he said outlets will pay for premium content. He pointed to other live sports examples and said they are sitting in a really good place. Emanuel backed up Shapiro’s comments by saying that premium content sells for a premium.

-The final caller asked if there are cost savings that come from having a single partner in Netflix. One of the hosts said there will be cost savings. Shapiro also spoke about sponsorship deals. He said UFC was doing roughly $35 million in sponsorship deals. He said WWE sells really well locally, but they need work nationally. He said they have over $200 million in UFC sponsorship deals and believes they can do the same with WWE. This concluded the call.


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