WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, Chief Strategy and Financial Officer George Barrios, Chief Revenue & Marketing Officer Michelle Wilson and SVP Financial Planning & Investor Relations Michael Weitz are hosting a Fourth Quarter 2017 earnings call today from WWE headquarters in Stamford. You can check out coverage of this morning’s press release on the main page. Below are highlights from the call:
– Weiss opens the call and welcomes us, going over the basics. He turns the call over to Vince. Vince says they achieved record revenue in 2017 and he goes over some of the numbers from the earlier earnings report. Vince touts how video views have grown as have their social media engagements. He touts how WWE has one of the most-viewed YouTube channel. He talks about Mixed Match Challenge and the new “Miz & Mrs.” USA Network series with Maryse and WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz. WWE also looks forward to rolling out Virtual Reality content. He also comments on celebrating the RAW 25th Anniversary but says it’s just one of many milestones to come. He comments on how Ronda Rousey’s debut was the highlight of the women’s Royal Rumble match. He also congratulates Triple H and Stephanie McMahon on bringing Rousey to the company. Vince says he’s pleased generally with their performance and looking forward to 2018 as they expect more record revenue. Vince turns the call over to Barrios.
Barrios talks about how their content execution strategy has helped in a big way, touting how 2017 brought the highest earnings and profit in company history. Barrios talks about today’s numbers and turns the call over to Wilson. Wilson says what sets WWE apart from other media companies is how they can create content for fans through various platforms that are constantly changing. She touts Mixed Match Challenge and says the show allows Superstars to connect with fans on Facebook in ways that weren’t possible before. She touts over over 6 million views and over 12 million minutes watched for MMC on Facebook Watch. She also talks about the “Miz & Mrs.” show on the USA Network. She also touts the WWE Network growth and other success they’ve had across all platforms, noting that views were up 30% in 2017. WWE has strengthened their talent base, created new games and released the best-selling action figure which beat Star Wars and Transformers.
Wilson turns the call back over to Barrios for more business-related notes from the earnings report. They expect to announce plans for future TV deals this year, the UK later this year and India in the first half of next year. Barrios turns the call back to Weiss to take calls from investors. When asked what their goals are for MMC, Barrios said the show has been great for them and is obviously a new way of creating content. They’re learning every day on production and they’re happy with viewers, as are their partners at Facebook. He also noted that they aren’t getting paid what they would for RAW or SmackDown but it’s still the right to move to make for content and audience engagement. Vince was asked about the XFL and how it will affect his day-to-day duties. Vince says the investment will take more than what was originally announced. He doesn’t see his role with WWE changing as they will have a separate management team to run the XFL.
They indicated that WWE is receiving more calls from others networks when it comes to renewing their TV deals, more than they did the last time they renewed the deals for RAW and SmackDown. Barrios noted that the Network is the second largest business for WWE and is growing. It’s also the second biggest branded service, behind MLB.tv. Wilson noted that they’re looking to premiere “Miz & Mrs.” in the summer on the USA Network and it will be a 6-episode season. Vince was asked if their video content will become more of a revenue stream than a marketing channel and he said it’s just good content, which goes a long way with growth. Regarding the TV deals, Vince said they have always been really good at audience migration as fans have always followed them to their new homes. Wilson talked about localizing content and noted that a large chunk of video views, possibly 70%, come from outside of the United States. Wilson noted that they continue to talk with Sky and other TV partners about expanding in the UK, giving props to Triple H for his work there. Wilson said the same thing goes for India as they remain focused to expanding into that market. Wilson said they are excited about a lot of growth in India and the UK.
Vince says one caller was right when it comes to Ronda Rousey and how WWE is more than just one talent but Rousey is big for them. Triple H spoke up and said they are finalizing the details of Ronda’s deal, which is multi-year. He said WWE is Ronda’s #1 priority and she wants to be ingrained into the fabric of WWE, this is her life now. Vince said Rousey fits in with what they are doing with other women. He let Stephanie speak up and she talked about the women’s evolution and how WWE has let the women become the main event. Wilson talked about how the Royal Rumble fan response was not about just Rousey but the first-ever women’s Rumble match, saying the reaction and engagement was incredible. Stephanie also talked about how the women’s evolution has generated interest from outside partners and sponsors. Triple H noted that the evolution is part of why Rousey wants to be a part of WWE as she sees it as a great platform for herself. That’s it for the call.