WWE held their annual stockholder's meeting today in Stamford, CT. During the meeting, the floor was opened for questions from stockholders:
Vince McMahon was asked about WWE's relationship with the Rock, specifically whether the company's new deal with him was cost-effective, since they obviously were having to pay a high premium for someone of his current stature. McMahon responded that he and Rock are working on a handshake deal and that is "how they have operated for a long, long time." McMahon said it's all based on increased value. He said that if there is a higher percentage in terms of growth in terms of what they would "normally expect", Rock is "going to get a piece of that". McMahon said their net was going to be much higher and he and Rock were proud of that.
How the other WWE PPV events were doing compared to the past was brought up. McMahon said the PPV business is down but he's hoping that Wrestlemania's PPV numbers will be a kickoff for a new year in terms of numbers for the company's PPV events.
McMahon was asked whether Smackdown had retained its audience in the transition from MyNetworkTV to SyFy, McMahon said that the show has just about the same penetration now and they are very happy with SyFy, stating that they have "been the number one show on the network" since they've debuted there. He said if there's been any change in distribution, it's offset by the advantages of being under the NBC Universal family through promotion. McMahon noted that the syndicated network system, such as MyNetworkTV, is in trouble. Being on SyFy gives them longevity and provides them with non-preemptive status (i.e. they won't be bounced out their timeslot), which is "so important" to the company. He explained how they would often be bounced for sports programming on MyNetwork and the audience would be diluted when they were moved out of the slots.
Triple H's international development of talent was brought up, as was the idea of launching other groups in other countries with locally cultivated stars. McMahon said that there will be a more aggressive attempt to bring in international talents and grooming them, but they need to become stars here, because if they are, they will be stars elsewhere. McMahon said that with Miz, Alberto Del Rio and Sin Cara, you are seeing talents on the "fast track" to becoming the new "Rocks and John Cena of the day."
The company's intellectual property was brought up and McMahon was asked what the biggest problem in terms of protecting it is. McMahon said piracy and that they have a very aggressive group that handles that aspect. They noted piracy is incredibly difficult outside the U.S. as well as inside of the country. There's no silver bullet that can stop it. The hope is that as countries become more developed as markets, they will help crack down on it. McMahon noted that they just went on the air in Russia and Brazil "but we've been there a long time." He said the best way to fight piracy in other countries was to actually bring the content to the countries.
In regard to expanding and re-branding the company, McMahon was asked whether he had learned anything from past failures like the XFL and the WWE restaurant. McMahon said that when you think about it, none of those ventures have used the core competencies of the company as their current plans. He said that they have no interest in going back into football or opening a restaurant, noting that they "had to inherit that business right before we went public." He also noted there was no interest in returning to bodybuilding. He said they aren't looking to invest into anything like that but acquisitions that they can "fit what we do" and things "we can, in essence, flip the model on". McMahon explained that they can acquire the license of an property and then run it through the same system of distributions, context and partners that they put the WWE property through.
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