WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, Co-President George Barrios, Co-President Michelle Wilson and SVP Financial Planning & Investor Relations Michael Weitz are hosting a Second Quarter 2018 earnings call today from WWE headquarters in Stamford. You can check out coverage of this morning’s press release at this link. Below are highlights from the call:
Weitz opened the call and welcomed everyone for the basics. Weitz then turned the call over to Vince McMahon. Vince touted WWE’s strong performance in the quarter and the success of WrestleMania 34 & the Greatest Royal Rumble, which was the largest international event ever in terms of gross. He also touted the new RAW and SmackDown TV deals with NBCU & Fox. Vince said they are looking forward to The Mae Young Classic and the first-ever all-women’s pay-per-view, Evolution. Vince said there are a number of new events that they will be announcing shortly. He said they are planning to launch new short-form content, Best of WWE, which will be in Spanish, Portuguese and German. They are also producing WWE Now in Arabic. Vince turned the call over to Barrios.
Barrios and Wilson went over the numbers in the press release we posted this morning, linked above. Wilson mentioned new content from Total Bellas, Miz & Mrs. and Total Divas. Wilson also touted WWE Network programs GRR, UK Title Tournament, Camp WWE, Mae Young Classic and Evolution. Wilson said video views through the first six months are up 58% to 14.4 billion with 509 million hours of viewing, up 71%, across WWE’s various social & digital platforms. Barrios also talked about WWE Super-Showdown, which will bring the largest WWE roster ever to Australia. He also touted mobile gaming success with WWE Champions, WWE SuperCard and WWE Mayhem. Mayhem, the newest game, recently surpassed 12 million installs.
Barrios noted how they still plan to announce the UK TV deals around the end of 2018 and the India TV deals during the first half of 2019. They anticipate 1.67 million paid WWE Network subscribers for the third quarter. Barrios said WWE’s key strategic goals for the rest of the year remain unchanged – finalizing global TV deals, creating new content across all platforms, investing in ongoing digitization of data & product technology, and driving international growth. WWE believes this strategy will engage fans like never before. Weitz took back over to introduce the Q&A portion of the call.
They were asked about more details on the partnership with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as GRR played a big part in the success of this quarter. Barrios said they were not going to speak on specifics due to confidentiality agreements. He did say the 10 year partnership will include more major events like GRR but they are still working on the timing of the next event. Barrios was asked about creating content and he said WWE has created nowhere the maximum that they can. They have the resources to create content and will continue to invest in those resources, and will continue to grow with localized content and other forms. In regards to the Super Show-Down event in Australia, Barrios said they are incredibly excited for the event and will thrill the Australian fans but the deal for SSD is a lot different from the deal with the Saudis for GRR. They were asked about WWE NXT expanding in the UK and TV distribution in that country. Wilson said the success of the previous UK tournament brought tremendous success and it was no surprise that they did the event again this year. The same goes for The Mae Young Classic. Wilson said they see localized content as a longterm opportunity and they see a lot in their ability to tap into local talents & markets. They keep talking about the 10 year plan to really go hard with the international content. Wilson did say that NXT in the UK does not change how they are looking at UK TV deals.
Barrios was asked if WWE would ever sell their customer data and he said they use data to put smiles on the faces of fans, that’s it. They were asked about turning the WWE UK brand into a WWE Europe brand. Wilson said that was a great question and they will continue with the localized content, and that the market will determine how they distribute that content. She praised Triple H for the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, noting that 40-45% of talents coming in are from outside the United States. Expect to hear a lot about international expansion in the coming years. They were asked about WWE Network users being able to create a custom homepage and Barrios said that option would be “coming soon” but he did not elaborate. Barrios also talked about expanding the Performance Center model globally with facilities in other countries, which they see as a great 10-20 year opportunity. Barrios took a few more questions on the numbers and that was it for the call.