As noted, WWE and the USA Network announced the new RAW TV deal today while WWE and FOX Sports announced the new TV deal for SmackDown. You can read the announcements with comments from Vince McMahon at this link and this link.
WWE also issued the following press release this evening, touting the new deals. Company executives will host a conference call tomorrow morning at 8am EST to discuss the contents of the release.
WWE® SECURES MULTI-YEAR MEDIA RIGHTS DEALS WITH USA NETWORK AND FOX SPORTS
STAMFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– WWE (NYSE:WWE) today announced that it has completed landmark agreements with USA Network and Fox Sports, effective October 1, 2019, for the U.S. distribution of WWE’s flagship programs Raw and SmackDown. As part of these five-year agreements, Monday Night Raw will continue to air on USA Network; and Fox Sports will distribute SmackDown Live each Friday on Fox broadcast network. These agreements increase the average annual value (AAV) of WWE’s U.S. distribution to 3.6 times that of the prior deal with NBCU.
“Key Content Agreements” – Top 7 Countries/ Regions (Exhibit 1)
Since the completion of its previous U.S. distribution agreement for Raw and SmackDown in 2014, the Company has discussed the deal’s financial impact by describing the growth of WWE’s seven largest television distribution agreements, of which that deal is a significant part. These “key content agreements”1, provided $105 million of contractual revenue growth from 2014 to 2018, increasing from $130 million in 2014 to approximately $235 million in 2018.
The monetization of content is a fundamental element of the Company’s business model, and the new agreements with USA Network and Fox Sports will provide a sizeable increase in the average annual value of WWE’s U.S. distribution. WWE management anticipates that revenue from “key content agreements” including the new U.S. deals, described as “Existing and New Agreements” revenue in Exhibit 1, will grow to approximately $311 million in 2019 and $462 million in 2021.2 The Company has other agreements that are subject to renewal in the 2019 – 2021 period, which are described as “To Be Negotiated,” and their revenue subsequent to renewal is not ascertainable. For illustrative purposes, the related amounts in Exhibit 1 reflect no future change in annual revenue (i.e. all future years are held equal to the value of the last year in the current agreements). This approach, which indicates revenue of $3 million in 2019 and $80 million in 2021, does not quantify management expectations and is used solely to reflect future risk or opportunity. As shown in Exhibit 1, revenue from the Company’s “key content agreements” would increase to $314 million in 2019 and $542 million in 2021.
Core Content Revenue – All Global Markets (Exhibit 2)
Core content revenue, as shown in the Company’s reported financial statements, consists primarily of licensing revenues earned from the global distribution of its flagship programs, Raw and SmackDown. By definition, the Company’s core content revenue includes the subset of license fees associated with its top 7 countries/ regions (“key content agreements”) as described above. WWE management anticipates that revenue from its core content agreements that extend through 2019 and subsequent years, described as “Existing and New Agreements” revenue in Exhibit 2, will grow to approximately $331 million in 2019 and $462 million in 2021.2 The Company has other agreements that are subject to renewal in the 2019 – 2021 period, which are described as “To Be Negotiated,” and their revenue subsequent to renewal is not ascertainable. For illustrative purposes, the related amounts in Exhibit 2 reflect no future change in annual revenue (i.e. all future years are held equal to the value of the last year in the current agreements). This approach, which indicates revenue of $17 million in 2019 and $114 million in 2021, does not quantify management expectations and is used solely to reflect future risk or opportunity. As shown in Exhibit 2, total revenue from the Company’s core content agreements would increase to $348 million in 2019 and $576 million in 2021.
Financial Outlook 2019
The Company is in the early stages of developing its operating and financial plans for 2019 and subsequent years. Given the substantial revenue growth provided by its new U.S. deals, the Company is currently targeting Adjusted OIBDA of at least $200 million for 2019, during which the new deals’ rates are effective for only three months.3
Management recognizes the transformative nature of these agreements and expects to provide additional long-term perspective on the Company’s strategic and financial goals after its content distribution plans in the U.S., U.K. and India have been determined and its plans have further evolved. Management currently expects to reach agreement in the U.K. by year-end 2018; and in India during the first half of 2019. Although these agreements could be secured either before or after these dates, management believes that these ranges represent the most likely periods for such communication.
WWE will host a conference call at 8:00 a.m. ET on June 27 to discuss the contents of this release. All interested parties are welcome to listen to a live web cast that will be hosted through the Company’s web site at corporate.wwe.com/investors. Participants can access the conference call by dialing 1-855-200-4993 (toll free) or 1-323-794-2092 from outside the U.S. (conference ID for both lines: 1980819). Please reserve a line approximately 10 minutes prior to the start time of the conference call.
The presentation referenced during the call will be made available on June 27, 2018 at corporate.wwe.com/investors. A replay of the call will be available approximately two hours after the conference call concludes, and can be accessed on the Company’s web site.
1. WWE’s “key content agreements” reflect the licensing of WWE’s flagship programs, Raw and SmackDown in certain markets and, as such are a subset of the Company’s core content deals. These markets include the U.S., U.K., India, Canada, LATAM, Middle East and South Africa.
2. Revenue derived from “Existing and New Agreements” is subject to normal risks related to maintaining agreements and counterparty risks.
3. WWE is unable to provide a reconciliation of 2018 and 2019 guidance to GAAP measures as, at this time, WWE cannot accurately determine all of the adjustments that would be required.
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