WWE CFO George Barrios took part in a presentation at the 40th Annual UBS Global Media conference in New York this week, and discussed the WWE Network. Here are the highlights…
On The Slow Grind to Build The Network: “We just believe there is too much there potentially not to keep pushing at it. The drag on earnings is painful. It’s painful to investors. It’s painful to us but we just believe payoff could be too large so we are going to continue to push on that.”
On The Earning Potential of Their Video Library: “Wherever the video is being monetized, we see that the real opportunity,” Barrios said. “We see growth there. Very high operating margins because we create our content once and then monetize it in a variety of those different platforms and also we have the ability to mine a significant library.”
On The New Monday Night Wars Show: “So we have done a good job but really we have only skimmed that library. So as we started thinking about best ways to monetize and there is different ones, there is big output deals you could sign is one example, the network, just we kept coming back to that as being the biggest bang for the buck. Now we don’t view the network as a catalog network. There will be powerful, compelling exclusive original content that will be the core because otherwise people aren’t going to either watch it in the numbers you want or pay for it if you go that model.
But we can wrap around some very fresh, compelling content that’s created from our 100,000 hour library. So for example, one of the shows that’s in production right now and it’s tested really, really well in our focus group is the Monday Night Wars. It will be an episodic series, number of episodes be determined but somewhere between 10 to 15 episodes that looks at the year 2000 and 2001 battle between Ted Turner and Vince McMahon when they were on competing networks fighting for audience.
So there are some really cool things going on in the ring but there are some really interesting things going on outside the ring that would appeal to a slightly different audience and the lapse fan I talked about before, one of the kernels that we found was that the lapse fan really would be into reliving that a little bit. Especially parents with their kids on what to be able to talk to their kids about things that they were seeing and watching and so on.
So we think the network allows you to take thousand hours of the program which is a lot but it gives us that opportunity to own our content and also maximize significant amount of it. So that’s where that came from. It’s the ability mine that catalog in a fresh new way and also put new content out there.”
On TOUT being featured on WWE TV: “I think you will continue to see it in more and more shows and we’re going to continue to be creative in how we use it. I think you are also seeing the production values as our talent and our fans get more accustomed to using it. The quality of the 15 seconds improves. So I think you are going to see that as well. But, we like the platform a ton. We love our engagement. It gets back to the whole social media element of it.”
Barrios also noted that WWE became interested in working with Tout after they “became fascinated by the technology.” He added, “We really thought, ‘Boy, we are going to really drive the value of this company by integrating it,’ and we have.”