On Thursday afternoon, WWE reported their Q2 Financial Earnings and also held a conference call.
Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, Nick Khan and others were all on the call. During the Q&A session, one of the investors directly asked Vince McMahon about AEW making significant roster investments and their viewership rising and wanted to know if he saw them as a competitor and does he expect to make additional investments to counter them? Vince noted that he does not see it as a “rising tides lift all boats” situation like the Monday Night Wars, which was different. Vince said Ted Turner was a different situation and they came after them. He said AEW “is where they are” and he doesn’t know what their plans are. Vince said he doesn’t consider them competition in the way WCW was, “not anywhere near that,” Vince continued, saying, “I’m not so sure what their [AEW’s] investments are as far as their talent is concerned, but perhaps we can give them some more.” What exactly he means by that comment is unknown. More releases on the way? More competition?
You can check out some additional highlights from the call below:
* After the usual introduction with the legal disclosures from Michael Weiss, the call is turned over to Vince McMahon. He cites “solid results” and high demand for live event tickets, with strong advances for shows including SummerSlam and an increase in ratings since live events returned. He notes that they have improved profitability and passed it onto Nick Khan.
* Nick Khan talks about how in the last earnings call they discussed earlier this year how the NBA, NFL and the like saw increase their media rights fees despite lower overall ratings. He says that the same happened in the second quarter with companies, as well as private equities investing in sports teams. He runs through them and points out how it’s evidence that the marketplace has a lot of opportunity for growth, highlighting soccer media rights increases and investments in Premier League teams due to the demand in media rights for live sports. He notes that they renewed their deal in Australia with FoxTel and got an increase for package rights, and says they’re encouraged by their trends as they expand WWE Network content overseas.
* Khan mentioned again that ratings were up since live shows began, and said that four months into their Peacock deal they’re seeing a big increase. Backlash was up 26% in viewership, Hell in a Cell was up 25% and Money in the Bank was up 46% from their prior year performance, and up considerably from pre-pandemic numbers.
* He touches on the return to live event touring and its return on Smackdown. He says it was “not a return to live events,” citing the ThunderDome, but a return to touring. He says that Jult 16th’s Smackdown was sold out and the highest grossing non-PPV event in Houston for WWE history. with merchandise sales up 50%. Money in the Bank was sold out and the highest-grossing non-WM in WWE history in the Dallas area, with 100% merchandise increase from the last show in the area. And Raw in Dallas was their highest attendance in Dallas in over three years, with merch up almost 50%. Smackdown on Friday from Cleveland was the highest non-PPV date in WWE history in the city. He also cites Rolling Loud and its big audience, with strong merch sales, and says their house show in Pittsburch was the highest grossing non-televised event in Pittsburgh history, and same with Lousville the next night. Raw in Kansas City was their highest-gorssing non-PPV there in 15 years, with merch sales up 50%.
* Khan hypes up Summerslam taking place in Las Vegas on Saturday, August 21st, which will be the biggest gate for a non-WM ever, and points out the New Year’s PPV announced at Rolling Loud, which will not be up against college football the way it would be in most years. The rest of the calendar will be announced shortly.
* Khan talks about their sponsorships and sats Stephanie McMahon have brought in 20 new and existing sponsors this year, while still looking for more brands to promote themselves. He mentions the TikTok Summerslam ring announcer contest, which has garnered 9 million views and thousands of submissions.
* Khan said that they will be doing another NFT drop for SummerSlam with John Cena.
* Finally, Khan mentioned the upcoming The United States vs. Vince McMahon project with Blumhouse Productions, which they’re excited for.
* Stephanie takes over and says it’s an exciting time for their business and that while they don’t know what the future holds, they’re positioned well with the return to live event touring in terms of fan engagement and financial performance. She notes that she and Triple H greeted fans outside before the first show and it felt like a “giant family reunion.” She said that Cena’s return has helped business pick up and talks about how FOX and NBCU supported their returns with different campaigns and says they upgraded the production for their entrances, along with different augmented reality, while the costs remain par with their 2019 expenses.
* Stephanie touts the increase in viewers since they returned to live events and talks about how TV viewership has been stable throughout the quarter with modest increases for both and big spikes in the demo since fans returned. She noted that digital video views have also increased including a 3x increase in FB hours and 2x increase in views. They also saw their WWE Biography specials increase A&E’s Sunday night performance by 90% in the demo and 21% in viewership, and talked baout how they’re making a positive impact for their partners.
* She said that brands are looking for unique ways to engage with their customers, and WWE is perfectly positioned to that with customized content experiences. She referenced the “zombie invasion” at backlash to hype Army of the Dead and said the results speak for themselves, with 25 million content views across digital and social 3 of the 14 trending topics that night directly tied to the integration. She also points out that Army of the Dead is one of the most watched Netflix originals ever.
* She then talked about launching the WWE Championship Credit Card and talked about their deal with Pure Life Water, as well as working with Tiffany Haddish, who will host the SummerSlam After-Party in support of her foundation. She referenced the Community Impact Report they released and the positive impressions they’ve put on their community partners, and said that they’re well positioned to continue to grow the brand and service their audience.