– WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, Chief Strategy and Financial Officer George Barrios and SVP Financial Planning & Investor Relations Michael Weitz are hosting a Fourth Quarter 2015 earnings call today from WWE headquarters in Stamford.
After opening the call, Weitz turns it over to McMahon. Vince touts the highest revenue in their history and record performances across the business. He touts how they have more than doubled their views on YouTube with 8 billion. Vince also touts their social media engagements increasing by 50%. The WWE Network had nearly 1.3 million subscribers at year end. He talks about how they debuted around 85 hours of new Network content during the fourth quarter. They are excited about new content coming to the Network, including Edge and Christian’s show, Camp WWE, and the March to WrestleMania event. He said they are thrilled with their 2015 performance but clearly some investors aren’t. He hands the call over.
Barrios goes over what was in the earnings report and they take calls from investors. Below are highlights:
* They are happy with the WWE Network over all and aren’t as worried about losing 50,000 subscribers in the quarter when they see overall consumption and people watching 188 hours. There are no plans on grouping or bundling the Network with other providers but they are open to ideas
* They expect Network subscriber retention to be slightly higher for WrestleMania 32 than 31. They also expect WrestleMania to drive growth for the Network again this year
* Vince McMahon was asked how they will make WrestleMania 32 a strong draw with all the current injuries to top talents. He replied, “By being creative. We’ll have an awesome WrestleMania. It’ll be very attractive to our audience, just as attractive as last year.”
* Barrios wouldn’t elaborate on the subscriber count for India but said the country is a long-term project for WWE. They expect to be in China, the Philippines and Thailand in the next year or so. Barrios also talked about how Japan will be a great market for them but obviously not as big as some of the others
* They are very high on social media and expanding that strong presence to other social platforms. They are proud of other companies contacting them when it comes to social media because of their dominance
* There was talk in 2008 about doing a new Media Center after they were outgrowing their current facilities but they backed out of those plans when the financial crisis hit and now it doesn’t make much sense to go with the same plans as times and the business have changed. There are no plans to build a new center now
* When asked about TV ratings declining for several quarters now, Vince admitted they are down but not as much as the networks they are on overall. Vince talked about how it’s important to WWE that fans are able to consume their content when and how they want. He also said people don’t watch TV as much as they used to but TV is still extremely important to WWE, they just don’t live and die by ratings like they used to before new media. He said ratings just don’t matter as much anymore
* Barrios wouldn’t go into details on revenue for NXT but he said they are very proud and happy with the overall engagement they see with NXT. NXT will continue to expand with touring and they are excited about that
* A caller asked about issues with NBC Universal when it comes to watching WWE online vs. on TV, and Vince said fans watching online will help NBCU and in the end will make WWE more valuable to NBCU and other partners. The investor said that should be interesting and Vince replied a second or two later, “It sure will.”
* In regards to the breakdown of WWE Network viewing, 20% is for pay-per-view events and 80% is everything else
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