Thanks to a more robust traveling schedule, WWE’s reported third quarter revenues were up 15% to $255.8 million year-over-year, one of several key numbers announced by the company Thursday.
On the quarterly investors call, Vince & Stephanie McMahon, president Nick Khan and others were happy with the company's current financial position and, as expected, optimistic about the future.
During the Q&A portion, there were no questions about AEW.
In the release, they said their North American attendance drew the highest quarterly average in more than a decade. Their live event revenue was up to $28 million year-over-year with consumer products up to $25.1 million.
Per usual on these calls, Khan was bullish on the company's prospects when it comes to the next round of TV rights deals, pointing to several new rights deals including the Premier League. He continued to push the importance of live programming as a key reason for that. He said they are just as bullish for this next round of negotiations as they were for the last one.
He did note that the second-day rights for WWE Raw with Hulu are up in the latter half of 2022 and that a deal will be done for those rights before then. He didn't indicate whether Hulu would remain in the mix, but said he expects multiple suitors and referred to it as "a battle that will be intense and fun" for the rights, noting the landscape is much different now than in 2018 when the Hulu deal was initially done.
Khan said that international restrictions on travel have slowed down rights negotiations in other countries, but that things have sped up,
The company's successful SummerSlam weekend and a return to a more robust live touring schedule helped the year-over-year increase of $34 million. In brief statements early on, Vince McMahon said the return to touring is where the company "comes alive in so many respects."
Intellectual property continued to be a buzzword as McMahon himself said new ways to monetize it are part of "the evolution of sports entertainment." Khan talked about "the IP wheel" on the call as well, citing the Undertaker/New Day content on Netflix and the upcoming McMahon Netflix docuseries, the latter of which he said were "amazing" and "out of this world." They want to increase value while finding new revenue streams.
Khan said they underwent a strategic examination of their pay-per-view model in the last year, making changes to focus on not just making the content special but the surrounding events for their big stadium shows. Part of the strategy was finding Saturdays when lots of visitors are expected in the cities for those big events.
- Part of the selection of the Royal Rumble date, for example, was to not go up against the Winter Olympics and their partners in NBCUniversal.
- Having more integration with athletes like Atlanta Hawks player Trae Young for the New Year's Day show in Atlanta is coming, according to Khan.
- They are bullish on the trading card market is booming right now and got multiple bids before deciding on Panini as the best partner for them.
- They also continue to be confident in the NFT market. They were not asked about the John Cena NFT failure.
- They are excited for the WWE 2K22 launch in March.
- Stephanie McMahon said SummerSlam viewership was up 55% from 2020 on both WWE Network and Peacock.
- She later said there's no reason WWE can't be generating hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising and sponsorship within the next 3-5 years.
- They are the no. 1 sports brand on TikTok with nearly 15 million followers.
- Khan said they are happy with the NXT relaunch and that several call-ups have already happened. The recruiting effort, led by Paul Levesque and Bruce Prichard, is focused on young athletes.