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VINCE MCMAHON UPDATES CM PUNK'S STATUS, WHY WWE COULDN'T MAKE A DEAL WITH NBCU, WHEN THE REST OF THE WORLD WILL GET THE WWE NETWORK AND MORE

By Dave Scherer on 2014-02-20 11:32:05

Coverage of today's Conference Call, part two.

Here are the highlights of what George Barrios talked about.

*Total Divas has helped drive up TV revenue.

*George noted that WWE has the second highest selling line of action figure brands in the country.

*The WWE Studios division did much better this fourth quarter.  They plan to stay the course with the studio this year.

*Salaries grew 2.7% largely due to getting ready for the Network.

*The company's balance sheet is strong.

*The company secured a new company jet.

He said that looking ahead, they believe they can double or triple their OIBDA results by 2015 due to the Network and their rights fees.  He reiterated that they feel their TV rights are similar to those that live sports get.  He pointed to their recent deals in the UK and Thailand and said those new deals bear that out.

They feel that in the US, they can get two to three million subscribers for The Network eventually.  They expect to get one million by the end of the year.

They expect to launch the Network outside of the US by the end of 2014, or early next year.

He said that due to the variables in place (the Network, PPV cannibalization, etc.) 2014 could see lower earnings than 2013.  He said he expected a net loss of 12 to 15 million dollars in the first quarter of this year, due to a few issues and the launch of the Network.

He said that due to those variables, and not know the status of the TV deals or the subscriber base for the Network, he expects they will have a better idea of guidance for the year at the first quarter conference call in May.

They will give a Network Subscriber update on April 7, the day after WrestleMania.

They then turned the call over to questions.

The first question asked how many bidders they expect for Raw, Smackdown, etc.  George said he wouldn't comment but they are confident due to the strength of their product that they will get an equitable deal.  What makes them think the Network will do well.  George said that the chatter on Social Media backs up what they found when they researched the idea.  WWE hopes to exit the year with one million subscribers.  What would be a ballpark figure for the payout for the Network?  About 12 Million dollars.

The next question asked about NBCU and why they couldn't reach an agreement and whether the Network was a factor.  George didn't want to comment on what happened there.  He reiterated that WWE delivers a lot of viewers and the value they bring.  That says to me NBCU didn't want to pay enough.  Did they expect to get to the open marketplace?  George said they are always ready for all events and they didn't have a mindset going in as to whether they would make a deal quickly or not.  They have a value for their content and they are happy to talk to everyone, including NBCU, about getting it.

They were asked how excited are they and fans toward Mania and any update on CM Punk would be great.  That was asked to Vince, who kind of grunted.  He said Mania will be great.  Punk is "taking a sabbatical, let's put it that way," Vince said.

The next question was why do you keep doing movies?  They don't make any money.  Vince said that with their third model for the film business, they are finally making money.  They are a content company and they feel this will make money for them down the line.

On the TV rights deal, will we see the benefits all at once or gradually.  The new US deal starts in the fourth quarter.  UK starts Jan. 1 2015.  Thailand has started.  Generally, these deals have escalation clauses built in so it will be gradually.

Asked again about who would distribute WrestleMania, George said 85% of the companies have agreed to carry it.  He wouldn't say who, just gave a percentage.  He was asked how much of the PPV business Dish and DirecTV accounted for and he said roughly their market share, about 35%.

That was it and the call ended.