WWE held a conference call with investors on Thursday to discuss the company’s 2013 third quarter earnings. I was on the call on behalf of WrestlingNewsWorld.com and compiled the following notes:
- Michael Weitz opened the call by reading a prepared statement. Joining Weitz for the call is Vince McMahon and WWE Chief Financial Officer George Barrios.
- Vince got on the call and said they did a greater return but did take an impairment off movies from the past. Excluding the impairment, revenue increased due to many factors including the strong performance of Total Divas and the extra hour of Raw. This made up for what McMahon termed as a weak performance of SummerSlam. McMahon reiterated the audience didn’t buy the attraction of SummerSlam and that pay-per-view events are sold based on attraction.
- He talked about the new John Cena apparel line that is a Kmart exclusive, deals with Kraft and General Mills and expanded TV coverage in China and Japan. McMahon said they continue to develop the WWE Network and are looking at traditional and non-traditional ways to do that. Vince said they feel bullish on realigning their TV properties and the rights they should be garnering. He said they liken WWE more to NASCAR, with their overall viewership higher. Vince said they look forward to their discussions with NBC Universal and other distributors. They’re currently in negotiations for a new TV deal in the United Kingdom with BSkyB and India is coming up soon. (Note from Richard: Basically, what Vince is saying they’re looking for a deal with NBC Universal that will top NASCAR’s $4.5 billion/10 year deal. We have more at this link.)
- Barrios got on the call and went over the numbers that you can read about at this link. While Barrios is a number cruncher, he mentioned SummerSlam underperforming at least three times. It’s clear the company wasn’t happy with the show, which was headlined by Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena and Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk. As noted here, SummerSlam 2013 did 296,000 buys compared to 358,000 the year prior.
- After Barrios was finished, a question and answer session with investors was held.
- A caller asked about what WWE mentioned in their press release, where they said they were confident they would be able to negotiate their key domestic agreements by the end of April next year. The caller also wanted to know if WWE expects to re-sign with their current carriers or if we can expect Raw and Smackdown on a different channel. Vince said there’s a certain window of negotiations and if they make a deal with their current carriers that’s great, but if not, they’ll go outside that window. Vince expects a deal to be reached shortly after the first of next year. George Barrios said it’s pretty typical for a deal to get done early. (Note from Richard: WWE’s domestic TV deals expire in quarter four of 2014 but WWE clearly expects to have them renewed very early next year. Again, they’re going for a home run based on what NASCAR got from NBC Universal.)
- Vince called SummerSlam a “swing and a miss” and said they don’t hit them all out of the park. He used the same language that pay-per-view events are attraction driven and this year’s attraction obviously wasn’t bought.
The call was ended after one question as there were no further questions. Once the call was ended, Weitz and Vince were heard talking. Vince said, “as Daniel Bryan would say…” and it was then inaudible. Weitz told Vince he thought that was the shortest call they’ve ever had.