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By Mike Johnson on 2021-07-29 16:51:00

Welcome to's live, ongoing conference call discussing today's WWE 2021 Second Quarter Earnings.  Scheduled to speak during the call are WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon, WWE President & Chief Revenue Officer Nick Khan, WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon, and Chief Financial Officer Kristina Salen.

Michael Weiss welcomed everyone to the call.

Vince McMahon said they generated a solid second quarter results as they focused on fans.  Their live events have been at close or full capacity thus far.  They will have the largest Summerslam event in the United States ever.  They were up big time in the 18-49 demo for Raw and Smackdown for their events when they returned before live crowds.  They believe they can take advantage of the evolving business environment as they always have.

Nick Khan said they wanted to start with some industry perspective.  Last time, other sports saw rights increases even though they had lower linear viewership.  The second quarter was a busy quarter for activity.  He ran down some of those deals for other sports leagues to spotlight on the growth opportunities that are there for WWE.  WWE just renewed their deal with Foxtel in Australia.  They are encouraged by the trends they see as they renew WWE Network deals internationally.

Ratings are up across the board for all of their shows.

Four months into their Peacock deal, they are seeing the benefits.  Viewership of the PPV events has increased.  Backlash was up 26%.  Hell in A Cell was up 20%.  Money in the Bank was up 46%.  These were up higher than even pre-pandemic viewership.  They expect viewership to keep increasing as Peacock gains new subscribers.

They made sure to point out they didn't miss one week of production during the pandemic but have returned to touring.  Their 7/16 event in Houston sold out and was the highest non-PPV grossing event in Houston, Texas history.  They had a great merchandise night.   The 7/18 MITB event was sold out and was the highest grossing non-PPV event in Dallas, Texas area.  These sold out prior to the return of John Cena.   The 7/19 Dallas show was the highest grossing for that venue and merch was up 50% from last time they were there.

The Cleveland event sold out and was the best non-PPV event in Cleveland.  Merch was up 60%.  Khan touted their involvement with the Rolling Hard Festival (which was a Khan deal) in Miami.  They saw strong merch sales at the Festival.

The house show in Pitts was the highest grossing non-televised event in Pitts history.  The house show in Louisville was the highest paid attendance event in over five years and their merch was up.  Their Kansas City event was the best non-televised event ever for the company.

Khan touted Summerslam for 8/21.  They have already moved over 40,000 tickets and it will be the biggest gate for a non-Wrestlemania event ever.

Khan discussed the New Year's Trae PPV and stated they were running that weekend as college football will not be playing that weekend.

They have brought in 20 new and existing sponsors this year with Sponsorships under Stephanie McMahon.  They are looking for more brands seeking unique ways to promote themselves.  He pointed out the TikTok Summerslam ring announcer contest with 1,000s of submissions and over 9 milliion views of the contest.

They will be doing John Cena NFTs over Summerslam weekend.

Khan touted The United States vs. Vince McMahon with Blumhouse Productions.  They are excited for the story to be told.

Stephanie McMahon said it was an exciting time for their business.  While they don't know what the future holds, they are excited to return to touring.  She and HHH met with fans before the first show and said it was like a huge family reunion.  She praised the return of John Cena and the Summer of Cena.  FOX and NBCU supported their return.  They upgraded their production for entrances and a wide variety of augmented reality.   The costs associated are on par with their 2019 costs but they have seen an increase in linear viewers.

Raw ratings and Smackdown ratings have been up since the return of fans especially in the 18-49 demos.  Mobile video viewing are also up, including YouTube and Facebook views.  They had solid performances on A&E, bringing up 20% in viewership and 90% in 18-49.  They continue to make positive impact for their partners.

Stephanie said brands are looking for unique ways to interact with their customers and WWE can create customized ways to do that.  She pointed out the zombie invasion at Wrestlemania Backlash as a way they can mash up and cross over brands.  She said the result "speak for themselves."  3 of the 14 trending topics that night were related to that integration and the film was one of the biggest in Netflix history.

Stephanie then put over the new WWE Credit Card and the recent deal with Pure Life Water as well as their work with community partners.  She said the company is well positioned to continue to grow the brand and service their audience.

Kristena Salen began reviewing the company's financial performance, running down the numbers that are in the press release.

They began doing the Q&A portion of the call.

Khan was asked about what drove rights to soccer and how they view WWE's value for streaming.  Khan said its the normal one sport globally.  Their brand is appealing on the scale globally.  They believe they will be a beneficiary of that.

They were asked about international events going forward.  Kristen Salen said they haven't released the number of total events for 2021 specifically but their guidance does include large scale international events.  They are forecasting them to be in the area of the second half of 2019.  They have 35 events on sale through the end of September and they will announce the latter half of 2021 shortly.  Their past numbers were based on 2019-2020 and was a forecasted number, not an actual number.

On sponsorship, they were asked what they see the opportunities being over the next 2-3 years in terms of increased sponsorships.  Stephanie said they believe there is significant upside and are tracking it.  They have the chance to work with Peacock to monetize things.  They can bring advertisers and sponsorships over different lines of business. 

Nick Khan asked if there was any news on the MENA or Middle East TV rights deal.   Khan said he, Vince and others are "deep into it" and hope to have news shortly.

Khan was asked about out of ring TV production plans and how many hours he is looking to create.  Are they looking to pre-sell these so there's no financial risk.  Are they being seen as profit center instead of promotional tools.  Khan said yes to all of that. He pointed to the A&E ratings for the documentaries and the Hidden Treasures.  He said to look for more of that, unscripted shows and dramatic shows such as the Vince limited series.

They hope to be in the new HQ by late 2022.  They intend to sell the three buildings they own currently once they move in.

They were asked when they expect to see "real" growth.  Stephanie said the return to live events helps with the energy but they've seen increases.

Vince was asked about AEW investing in talents and seeing a raise in their ratings.   Vince said Ted Turner was a different situation and they came after them.  He said he doesn't consider AEW competition the way he considered WCW competition back in the.  Vince said he didn't know about their talent investments but, "perhaps we can give them some more."  

Note from Mike: What in the world does THAT mean??

Khan said everyone is their competition.  They are sort of in a horse race with blinders.  They are concerned about themselves first and foremost.   No one is a specific competitor but everyone is their competition, including sleep, as Reed Hastings of Netflix recently stated.

They were asked about changes made internally.  They had Network, TV and Digital and had redundancies so they pulled them together in May and we'll see the effect of that in the third quarter of 2021.

The recent investment from Univision in Combate Global was brought up.  Khan was asked if he saw similar things leading to crossovers.  Nick Khan said that it sort of feels like the business model that Vince McMahon built out-  having one big territory for wrestling.  UFC sort of followed that in MMA.  Boxing hasn't followed that as it's all splintered there.  Khan said they like any new entrant in the combat space that is well financed.  They feel they are uniquely positioned for their space.

They were also asked about whether Peacock being part of SkyTV for free will include the WWE Network.    Khan said they are in a good moment in time.  Almost all of the U.S. conglomerates are looking to go global.  They have a turn-key product where they can do a deal with WWE and it's automatically ready for international outlets.  He said we'll see how it goes in the coming months.

Salen said their current guidance does include there will be "one large scale international event", which one would think means Saudi Arabia.

Khan was asked the next big opportunity.  He said international media rights, sponsorships and scripted & unscripted deals.

That was it for the call.

Thank you for your support of!

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