7/31 WWE Conference Call: Vince McMahon on WWE Network numbers and much more
Vince McMahon and members of senior management served as the hosts of a conference call pertaining to the 2014 second quarter report that was released on July 31, 2014. The following are the highlights of the call.
-The call is hosted by WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, WWE Chief Strategy and Financial Officer George Barrios, and WWE Investor Relations Michael Weitz.
-Vince said the key drivers are domestic attendance, television ratings, and now WWE Network. He said domestic attendance is up, television ratings are up five percent for Raw and three percent for Smackdown. He said he feels the WWE Network subscriber count of 700,000 is a "strong base to build on." He said the network will be made available in over 100 countries on August 12.
-Vince addressed the new ten-year agreement with Rogers Communications in Canada. He said the network is a different form in that it's "like an HBO model."
-Barrios addressed the WWE Network in Canada. He said the programming and content will be the same. He also said it will eventually be available on cable systems outside of Rogers reach.
-Overall, WWE Network will be rolled out in over 170 countries and territories on August 12. Barrios said the initial worldwide launch will feature the English language feed.
-New WWE Network programming includes "Rivalries" and "The Monday Night War." Barrios said both shows will provide a documentary style look at their subject matter.
-They will be launching on Smart TV's and Blu-Ray players, and will introduce resume play options later this year.
-Barrios read through the second quarter presentation. WWE Network generated $19.4 million in subscription revenue. Pay-per-view revenue dipped 36 percent compared to the same quarter last year. He said it was actually closer to 41 percent due to the fact that there were four pay-per-views in this quarter compared to the prior year quarter.
-WWE averaged 7,000 fans at live events. Excluding WrestleMania, the number was roughly 6,000 fans per live events.
-Barrios said that the company did a comprehensive evaluation of the company in the second quarter and trimmed seven percent of the staff.
-They opened up the phone lines for questions. Vince was asked about the pricing of the network and whether they need more options such as month to month. Vince said that's one aspect of it. As they grow and learn, they will consider various payment options.
-Vince was asked why they are expanding to 170 countries rather than the seven they spoke about next time. Vince said launching the English feed will help them get into various markets quicker, and they will have a lot more intel when they go back into those markets with language specific content.
-Barrios addressed the subscriber turnover. He said the renewal term will begin August 24. He said their assumptions on the renewal side will fit within the model they have developed.
-A caller questioned whether it's fair to say that they had their boom at WrestleMania time and then normalization since then. Barrios said that's essentially correct.
-Barrios was asked about improving numbers outside of WrestleMania season. He cited marketing, VOD content, and new shows.
-A caller asked if the worldwide network launch means subscribers will see the content that is seen now in the United States. Barrios said that is correct and believes their infrastructure will support it.
-The unique WWE Network approach in Canada was questioned. "First of all, they're Canadians, they tend to look at things a little differently." Vince said it's possible that there will be similar models elsewhere, but he didn't make it seem like it was a strong possibility. "They made an offer we couldn't turn down," Vince said regarding the Rogers Communications deal.
-A caller questioned whether there will be a new price once WrestleMania gets here. Barrios recalled Vince saying they were looking at different price points and they didn't want to comment beyond that.
-Barrios was asked about the ratio of subscribers who are set to auto-renew. He said they would not release that information.
-Barrios said the $19.99 for one month price gives one-time network subscribers a chance to sample the network at a fair rate. Vince added that they are considering additional options.
-A caller asked if Rogers Communications has the ability to add advertising to the network stream. Barrios said they are still working through that, and there is still talk of adding a traditional style app that would allow for advertising.
-Barrios said they have agreed to terms on their television rights deal in India, but they are still working on the finer points. A caller asked whether they will indicate how much the total increase is. Barrios said they never talk about individual deals.
-Barrios declined to say how many television deals are up in the next 12-18 months.
-A caller asked whether the subs acquired by Rogers in Canada will be counted in the WWE Network subscriber count. Barrios said they will.
-A caller asked for the top ten viewership count in countries outside the United States. Barrios said it's hard because ratings are gauged differently.
-There were no additional calls, so Weitz closed out the conference call. Vince managed to avoid saying "Shit!!!" unlike last time.
Today's Dot Net Weekly audio show will feature analysis of the WWE Network subscriber count and WWE's plans for worldwide distribution. Join us on the ad-free version of the site via the Prowrestling.net Membership Signup Page.
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