Mike will have the full report of the WWE conference call when it's over. I will be posting as it goes it along.
Vince opens the call saying the quarter was about where they thought it would be, maybe up a little bit from last year. But of course, down from last year. Shouldn't you expect your business grow? He said part of the drop was a second video game from last year (All Stars) not being there. He said social media is through the roof. He said live attendance is up 6% here and 17% abroad. He said "television ratings are good". Yes he said that! I wonder what constitutes "bad".
He added that Saturday Morning Slam is the number one show across that platform. He said talked about adding the ION show and the Scooby Doo movie (as a side note, he continues to say "WWE" as if the first two Ws are one letter, it's weird to me). He talked about Hulu Plus and the work they have done with Susan Komen. He said that Main Event is the number one show on ION and talked about how they have grown the audience over the shows they have replaced on CW and ION, which is definitely something to brag about.
He talked about renewing their agreement with the National Guard. He said they were excited for Christmas and their Mattel relationship. He said that their app is doing tremendous and will only get better. He said that this quarter showed the ongoing demand for their content.
He said that the network will be a premium (i.e. pay, like HBO) model that will be distributed by all the players. Studies show that there is a big demand for it. We will find out more on it later with George Barrios.
Vince seemed really jazzed, not subdued like he has in recent calls.
The first thing that George said that was interest to me was that they expect double digit growth over the next year. Wow, that will be a good thing if they can pull it. He also referred to the network as "potential" repeatedly.
They have between 30 and 40 million budgeted for the Network. Better than spending it on a Senate campaign!
George cited the extensive research that they have done. It was done in 9,000 houses. He cited that 12 million homes are hardcore fans. 24 million homes are casual fans. 23 million are lapsed fans. Half of the homes have said they want more WWE. Again if that is the case, how is it that they can't even average four freakin' million people for Raw? I guess a lot of those homes don't have anyone living in them. If it's me, I am questioning the consulting firm that did this study.
George feels that this desire for more WWE (except on Monday nights I guess) will drive their earnings over the next year.
Q and A time!
The first question asked whether the Network would cannibalize PPV. Vince said no, it wouldn't. Then he said that there were models that would include PPV and some that wouldn't. How does that not cannibalize it Vince? He didn't answer that. FYI, we will not get an update on when the network will launch.
Vince said that the next TV contract to come up is Smackdown's and they will decide how much off network programming they need to push the network. But it's important to have content on the other channels (it brings in the money folks). Vince reiterated that 50% of the homes in the US have "an affinity" for WWE programming. They really believe that number. The emperor has new clothes folks!
The next caller said that while attendance is up, it's lackluster compared to the past. Why isn't up as high as it used to be and when will it start ramping up? Vince said it's based on the product and expansion to a broader audience. He says that they are reaching different people in other areas. Uh, shouldn't that make MORE people come to shows not less? Vince won't speculate on whether attendance will grow but, "it will be good". Isn't that speculating?
George said he hoped that No Holds Barred's re-release would ultimately be profitable and make them $300,000.
They were asked how much more money they were getting for all of the new programming, including hour three of Raw. George said it's sensitive and the partners don't want the numbers out there. They are very happy with the revenue they are generating on the new hours.
Vince was asked if he needed to capture all of the homes in the study for the network to be successful. He said no, they just need to get the 12 million hardcore fans to make it a success. Vince thinks if he puts product on for the older audience they may come back (and pay for a premium network).
That was it. I will have a lot to say about this call when Mike and I get together for the show later today.