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WWE 2020 Q2 financial call audio & notes: Big operating income increase

Prior to their investors call Thursday afternoon, WWE released their 2020 Q2 numbers which showed a year-over-year decrease but a record year-to-date revenue record, buyoed by theiir TV contracts and some big savings with not running live shows.

This was the first full quarter WWE hasn't been able to run live shows since the pandemic began.

The company saw a year-over-year operating income increase to $55.7 million for the quarter, up from $17.1 million from 2019, thanks to running shows at the Performance Center and as the release said, "to a lesser extent...a decrease in accrued management incentive compensation."

Additionally, net income, adjusted OBIDA, and cash flows were all up.

Revenues for Q2 decreased to $223.4 million, down from 2019's $268.9 million with the company pointing to "unfavorable timing" for their February show in Saudi Arabia. Conversely, yearly revenue hit a company record $514.4 million, up 14% from the prior year.

With both digital views and hours consumed increasing, WWE Network paid subscriber numbers ended the quarter up 6% to 1.69 million while the average for the quarter decreased to 1.66 million. WWE added their long-discussed new free tier over the past quarter.

Another positive: while consumer products were down by roughly $1 million, ecommerce revenue doubled to $12.6 million. They cited new belt sales and video game revenue as helping in that area.

WWE stock closed the day on a positive at $45.43 with after hours trading showing some favorable response to the news (up nearly 3%) as of this writing.

Notes and audio from the investors call can be found below by clicking the red button 'Right Click Save.'

Other notes from the release and presentation:

  • Their social media followers dipped very slightly which said was due to some content being geoblocked.
  • The lack of live events resulted in a $48 million drop year over year. WWE had to cancel 53 domestic shows and 23 international events in the quarter.
  • The increase in subscribers marks the first time they've seen that since the fourth quarter of 2018.
  • They achieved WrestleMania Week viewership records of just under 1 billion video views across digital and social platforms, up 20% from last year.
  • Core content fees made up $132.9 million of the $200.1 million in media revenue for the quarter, up from $69 million from the previous year's quarter.
  • Raw viewership was down 24% year over year, following USA Network's 26% year over year decrease while SmackDown was up slightly by 4% year over year while Fox's numbers were down 4% year over year.

Notes from the Q&A portion (Vince McMahon, interim CFO Frank Riddick, Michael Weitz)

  • VKM was asked about the "softness" of the ratings. He essentially blamed it on a lack of audience interaction, but said they can have better storylines, more compelling characters and more content that isn't in the ring that is interesting to viewers.
  • EVP Jayar Donlan answered a question about the Network who said they made some moves into localization and advertising.
  • VKM said he doubts the Saudi Arabia show will happen this year but that will depend on the economy.
  • VKM asked why NXT and AEW have bounced back from the COVID-19 downtick while Raw/SmackDown hasn't. He said because "they're new" and that it's up to WWE to make Raw/SmackDown more youthful.
  • VKM asked about Heyman's firing from creative, he didn't really give much of an answer. He did say Paul Levesque helps on Raw and SmackDown when asked if he should help more given his success on NXT.
  • They were asked about the EVOLVE wrestling purchase which was said to be a "content purchase deal" in very small size with no merger & acquistion elements attached to it.
  • Asked if there are any options at looking at live shows outside the PC with fans, VKM curtly said they are looking at all opportunities currently.

Click below to listen to the entire call:

Right click save