WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon, Chief Strategy and Financial Officer George Barrios and Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer Michelle Wilson held a conference call this morning from WWE Headquarters to announce the fourth quarter and final results of 2017. Below are some of the results.
WWE Network Numbers
As of the end of 2017, WWE Network had 1.47 million paid subscribers. 1.06 million paid subscribers are from the United States and 0.41 million are international. WWE Network had 76,000 free subscribers and totalled the subscriber count to 1.53 million at the end of 2017. WWE is projecting the average paid WWE Network subscribers will rise to 1.53 million which will be an increase of 4% from the last quarter. WWE noted that they are projecting a 3% growth in WWE Network subscribers from year-to-year.
WWE Fourth Quarter Results and Final Results of 2017
WWE’s revenue increased by 10% to $801.0 million, the highest in WWE’s history. WWE’s operating income increased by 36% to $75.6 million. The adjusted OIBDA has increased to $111.9 million. WWE increased their content and completed multi-year distribution agreements with Australia, France, Japan, South Korea and other countries and regions. WWE’s digital engagement continued to grow as video views were up to 32% to 20 billion and social media engagement up 4% to approximately 1.2 billion from the prior year. Forbes named WrestleMania as one of the world’s top 10 most valuable sports event brands for the fourth year in a row.
WWE’S 2018 Business Outlook
WWE estimates an Adjusted OIBDA (excluding stock-based compensation expense) of $23 million to $27 million for the first quarter of 2018. WWE also projects that the average paid subscribers for the WWE Network will grow to 1.53 million paid subscribers for the first quarter of 2018. In 2018, management expects WWE to achieve another year of record revenue and previously targeted Adjusted OIBDA of at least $115 million.
Highlights from WWE’s Conference Call
Vince said that WWE has achieved record revenues in 2017 and goes over some of the number from the earning reports. Vince puts over the WWE’s social media engagements and said WWE’s YouTube page has become one of the most-viewed channels. Vince puts over the WWE Mixed Match Challenge on “Facebook Watch” and talked about “Miz & Mrs.” USA Network series which stars WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz and Maryse. Vince also said WWE is looking forward to rolling out some Virtual Reality content and spoke about the 25th Anniversary of RAW. Vince mention that Ronda Rousey was the highlight of the Women’s Royal Rumble match and gives all the credit to both Paul “Triple H” Levesque and Stephanie McMahon for signing Rousey to WWE. Vince said that he’s generally pleased with their performance and is looking forward to 2018 as they expect more record revenue.
Barrios spoke about their content execution strategy has helped WWE in a big way and how 2017 has brought the highest earning and profits in history. Wilson put over the Mixed Match Challenge and says it allows the WWE superstars to interact with their fans on Facebook. Wilson said there was over 6 million views and over 12 million minutes watch on Facebook Watch. Wilson put over the growth of the WWE Network and other success they have across all platforms, noting that views were 30%. Barrios said WWE is expecting to announce a plans for new TV deals this year, the UK TV deal for later this year and India’s TV deal in the first half of next year.
Highlights from WWE’s Conference Call
Vince McMahon insisted once again that with the start-up of the XFL, his duties in WWE will remain unchanged. The XFL will be run by football people. Vince also announced that George Barrios and Michelle Wilson have been promoted to Co-Presidents of WWE. Vince McMahon will remain the CEO of WWE. WWE was strongly hinted that they have multiple suitors for their upcoming U.S television deal which is set to expire in September of 2019.
During the conference call, Paul Levesque said they are finalizing the Rousey contract right and it’s a multi-year deal. Levesque said WWE will be Rousey’s priority and her first option on the schedule. Triple H said Rousey wants to be part of the DNA of WWE.
Additional WWE Fourth Quarter Notes
WWE Television: Revenues have increased by 10% to $75.3 million from $68.6 million in the prior quarter which is primarily due to contractual increases in key distribution agreements.
WWE Network: Revenue from the WWE Network and pay-per-view has increased by 6% to $46.2 million from $43.7 million. WWE Network subscription revenue increased 5% to $43.4 million based on increased in average paid subscribers to 1.48 million.
WWE Digital Media: revenues increased by 51% to $12.8 million reflecting higher advertising sales and consumption across digital platforms, particularly by YouTube.
WWE Live Events: revenues decreased by $35.2 million from $38.6 million in the prior year quarter primarily due to a 7% decline in average attendance. There were 101 total events (excluding NXT) in the current quarter. 68 live events in North America and 33 live events in the international markets. Last year had 103 live events, 75 events in North America and 28 in International markets. For the year, only home entertainment, arena merchandise, and the movie division showed decreased profits. WWE Shop also saw a slight decline.
The WWE stock closed at $33.84 on Thursday
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