WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, Chief Strategy and Financial Officer George Barrios and SVP Financial Planning & Investor Relations Michael Weitz will be hosting a Third Quarter 2015 earnings call today from WWE headquarters in Stamford.
Weitz opened the call with a basic introduction and introduced Vince, who touted their growth and the WWE Network subscribers. He said the WWE audience clamors for the exclusive content on the Network. He names the Beast In the East fro Tokyo, the NXT Takeover specials and the Madison Square Garden special as doing very well for them. Vince talked about lancing the Network in Germany and Japan in January and the Indian sub-continent in November. Vince touted the success SummerSlam weekend. He said NXT has become a brand of its own, giving props to his son-in-law Triple H. Vince also touted dozens of new advertisers they have acquired and WWE being the most-viewed YouTube channel. Vince said that YouTube success is very important to them. Vince then handed the call to Barrios.
Barrios went over the financial numbers and mentioned 90 hours of new original content on the WWE Network this quarter. Barrios mentioned they aren’t expecting growth based on other services like Netflix but other services grew at 22%. WWE is confident that they have big potential for growth.
It’s time for calls now. They realize this quarter may not be as strong as the third quarter is. Barrios said SummerSlam in the third quarter did so well for them and was like a mini-WrestleMania, creatively and on a business level. They believe acquiring new original content is important and it’s a long-term investment. In regards to investing in more original content while the numbers show fans are watching more pay-per-views and classic content, Vince said they need to be able to drive subscribers with current and major live events. WWE wants to have multiple reasons for fans to subscribe and use the Network, just one or two.
In regards to new price points for the Network, the $9.99 point is easy to market. There could be multiple points one day with multiple versions but they are staying with the current model for now. They were asked about YouTube now forcing publishers into their new “Red” model. WWE sees YouTube as a phenomenal global asset that can be used to grow their brand. They talked about pioneering short-form content and the WWE Network model like they did with pay-per-view. They are happy with WWE Network ad revenue and believe brands they work with find it intriguing.
In regards to ratings being down, Barrios said they don’t worry about one metric. They don’t like ratings being down but are still doing better than anyone else on pay TV and are higher than other shows on USA and Syfy. One caller asked about the Tapout partnership and plans for 2016. Barrios said they are very excited about it but wouldn’t be making any news today. They are increasing the number of people on the ground in China, expansion there and will be investing there in 2016. They’re also excited about their presence and plans in Germany.
Another called asked why they think NXT has been so successful, what opportunities does it create for their main programs and asked about competition. Barrios gave social media credit for a big part of the success. He touted NXT selling out the Barclays Center. Barrios said NXT competing with RAW or SmackDown never enters their mind at all. He said NXT has a different vibe, a different feel and the audience is kind of different. They’re not worried about any competition there at all. That’s it for the call.