Vince McMahon and other WWE senior officials hosted another investor conference call this morning from company headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut.
– Michael Weitz, WWE’s SVP Financial Planning & Investor Relations, welcomes everybody and gives an introduction.
– Vince McMahon spoke about the WWE Network and WWE’s TV ratings. Vince touted social media followers being up 85% from the same quarter in the previous year. WWE is the #1 sports channel on YouTube, Vince spoke about WWE App growth and said everything is in support of the Network. He covered the subscriber increases, which were detailed in the earnings report. Vince talks about the Network and hands it over to Barrios.
– Barrios says 4th quarter results surpassed their expectations. He talked about new features on the Network and how they’ve added new subscribers. They still expect a gradual subscriber increase over time as consumer awareness grows. He talked about the Network expanding internationally. He said the UK and Ireland became their second biggest market almost overnight. Barrios said other international markets that they won’t be in by the end of this year will be worked on at a later date.
– Barrios talked about how the live NXT specials helped with growth. Steve Austin’s live podcasts with Vince McMahon and Triple H were two of the most watched Network shows ever, and said they’re working on having more live specials and working on more exclusive content like talk shows. He talked about revenue increases and other financial data that was detailed in the earnings release.
– Barrios talked about some projects WWE came out with in the last year and talks about their reach on social media and with the WWE App. They expect more growth all across the board next year.
– Q&A: Barrios was asked how they monitor to make sure fans who previously used a free month of WWE Network don’t sign up for another free month. Barrios said they have some tools in place to check for this but didn’t go into details.
– Q&A: A caller asked to compare the WWE fanbase to UFC/MMA and asked about WWE signing MMA fighters to help bring in MMA fans. Barrios said WWE is all about multi-generational family viewing and that’s different from MMA audiences.
– Q&A: Barrios was asked about the budget for WWE Network content and feature films in 2015. Fixed costs for the Network will be about the same as last year but the films budget will be between $20 and $30 million.
– Q&A: A caller asked Vince about Twitter controversy and the #CancelWWENetwork hashtag after the Royal Rumble. Vince said the whole situation was actually good for WWE – because it created controversy. Vince fans were upset that “Santa Claus didn’t come” at the Royal Rumble. Vince mocked fans who say they’re never watching again who are then glued to the TV the following night.
– Barrios wouldn’t comment on Network advertising revenue. He took a few more questions before wrapping it up.