WWE held their Q3 financial earnings call on Thursday. The call featured Vince McMahon, WWE President Nick Khan, new CFO Christina Salen and more. You can check out some highlights below:
* Vince McMahon says he’s never felt as confident as he currently does about the new management and feels a lot of optimism, saying there’s a new spirit and vibrance. He says looking at the future, it’s a “fun and exciting” place to be and puts over president Nick Khan, new CFO Christina Salen and other individuals who have been here like Stephanie McMahon who is now head of the position to enhance growth. He said he just wanted to really let us know how he feels about the new management.
* Nick Khan then takes over and shares some of his background with the call of the co-head of CAA where he worked with top talent in entertainment, golf, boxing, and WWE. He was a practicing lawyer before that and notes he was an usher as a student for WrestleMania IX.
* Regarding WWE Studios they have a lot of project in the works: Total Bellas season six premiering in November, a new show currently titled The Quest For Lost WWE Treasures which will be hosted by Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. The show will “take viewers on the ultimate hunt” to find lost WWE memorabilia. It will be on A&E, who have ordered additional episodes of their Biography documentaries which will release soon. He references the Andre the Giant documentary on HBO and touts its success as a WWE Studios and HBO Sports production. He also announces a groundbreaking deal on a multi-part documentary on Netflix on Vince McMahon that is one of the highest-budgeted documentaries in Netflix history. Bill Simmons will executive produce and Fyre Festival director Nick Smith will helm and produce alongside WWE Studios. He puts over WWE as a company ready to grow across all lines of opportunities.
* Moving onto WWE Network, Khan says that conversations have resumed for alternative strategic options to the current model. They can’t estimate when it will be completed, but they believe in the potential for a transaction to reach a larger audience. In the interim they’re still capitalizing in the grown of digital consumption and notes that since the pandemic began, WWE subscriptions are up even with WrestleMania being presented non-traditionally. Q3 saw an increase in network viewership with 2.4 million watching content across all tiers, a 60% increase, with 37 million hours of content (8% increase). Average paid subscribers was up 6% to 1.6 million.
* They’re focused on developing localized content for international markets and are now working with Sony in India on a 2021 event that will primarily features Indian superstars and air both domestically in the US and in India via Sony. They expect to invest internationally at a measured pace.
* Khan says WWE has demonstrated creativity in adapting to the pandemic and are in a position to leverage their live content and grown in digital consumption. They believe WWE can develop new content and distribution platforms, expand into new markets and increase returns from international markets. They look forward to sharing their progress on them in the future.
* Khan introduces Stephanie McMahon, who says she gets asked what a CBO does. She says her role is to expand and strengthen WWE’s presence across media platforms, deepen engagement in the fan base, create value for partners and drive revenue. It all begins with the WWE Universe, and they call it that because it’s being inclusive in a giant community. She talks about how they talked about how they were going to continue delivering content to provide relief for audience and deliver on their mission: smiles on faces. They pivoted and began to innovate with WrestleMania’s change and Raw, Smackdown, and NXT following suit. She talks about cinematic matches, bringing in the developmental talent as audiences behind plexiglass and finally WWE ThunderDome. She says it brought over 1,000 live fans back and utilized other technology which energized the show and led to a 6% ratings bump for Raw and 12% for Smackdown compared to the four weeks before fans. They also turned the PC into the Capitol Wrestling Center and brought back NXT UK at BT Sports. She puts over the production teams across the ocean working together, and says they adjusted their strategy for new content, longer matches vs. clips, and focus on YouTube, Facebook and WWE Network which led to a 28& increase in digital views. They have over 50 billion YouTube views and have the second largest presence for sports behind the NBA.
* She says they need to expand outside the ecosystem and talks about bringing pop culture stars into the ecosystem like Adam Sandler, Chris Hemsworth, Ken Jeong, and Matthew McConaughey. She says they need a reason to keep audience coming back, and points out how they’re still doing their WWE Community work through virtual content (Make-A-Wish, anti-bullying, etc). She says they’re outpacing other shows with sponsorships during the pandemic and highlights their new partnership with Constellation Brands, the largest beer company in the US. She says they remain bullish on their ability to focus on long-term partnerships.
* Salen is on to talk about the financials of the quarter. Q3 revenue was $221.6 million, up 19%, and adjusted OBIDA of $84.3 million, upo more than two times thanks to higher rights fees. WWE offset the absence of ticket sales and had a reduction of force with a severance expense of $5.5 million. Adjusted OBIDA increased about $60 million to $100.7 million primarily due to higher domestic rights fees for Raw and Smackdown. She says that WWE produced over 550 hours of programming despite their challenges. She puts over ThunderDome and the Capital Wrestling Center. She says that Q3 ratings were down year to year, but up from July to September despite the return of major sports. She talks about the return of Miz & Mrs and Total Bellas, as well as their digital series and podcasts.
* As live events, adjusted OBIDA declined to a loss of $4.1 million due to a $22.1 million drop in live revenue due to the pandemic. The intention is to return to live events as quickly and safely as possible, but no announcement on when.
* Consumer product adjusted OBIDA increased $1.6 million to $5.6 million due to higher merchandise sales as well as higher video game and toys sales. The e-commerce bump offset the loss of live event merch sales. She highlights the release of new title belts, the WWE Legends and UpUpDownDown shop sites, and says that licensing revenue had a 25% sales increase from WWE 2K20 and highlights the World of Tanks partnership and WWE Battlegrounds, as well as WWE Slambulance.