Highlights from the WWE conference call on Thursday morning regarding the 2013 first quarter results. On the call included WWE CEO/Chairman Vince McMahon, CFO George Barrios and WWE Invester Relations Michael Weitz.
* Vince McMahon described the first quarter as “mixed results” noting that live events and Pay Per View buys were up. McMahon added that television ratings were strong pointing to increases for both RAW and Smackdown.
* McMahon called Wrestlemania 29 “a huge success” and believes the company will “reap rewards” for weeks, months and years to come. He noted that seven new performers appeared on the card at Wrestlemania 29 this year talking about the importance of building new talent.
* In regards to the proposed WWE Network, McMahon said they are still looking to build on it as a subscription model. George Barrios noted that they were hopeful a pay version of the WWE Network could attract between two and four million active subscribers.
* Barrios took over the call at this point reading through first quarter results. He noted that buys for both the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber were up 17% compared to last year. Barrios added that there was a 5% increase in the average revenue per buy due to the higher price of events in HD.
* WWE generated a loss of $5 million in the first quarter regarding WWE Studios. “Dead Man Down” was considered a big disappointment drawing a $4.7 million impairment charge. The success of “The Call” was brought up by McMahon and how it will profit the company nearly $6 million with a $1 million investment.
* The company balance sheet was described as strong with over $130 million in cash and assets with “very little debt.”
* Questions were then opened at this point in the call. When asked about declining international numbers, Barrios said they brought in a new executive to lead the international division and how they plan to make changes. He added that international events are always profitable despite poor numbers in Qatar and Turkey. Barrios said the company remains committed to running 60 to 70 international events per year.
* When asked again about the WWE Network, Barrios said they are “out of prognostication business.” Barrios said they have the content in place and are negotiating with providers including some international outlets. When pressed for a timeline of a possible rollout of the proposed network, Barrios said they are targeting “by the end of 2015.”
* The deal with Yahoo will start in the third quarter. Barrios declined to comment on how it would affect WWE’s current partnership with YouTube.
* A caller mentioned the new “Total Divas” reality show coming to the E! network. McMahon talked about how the show would appeal to women on a network that appeals to women. He talked about the advantage of having a show like that on another network that points back to WWE.