WWE held an investor conference call earlier today to discuss the company’s fourth quarter numbers that we released on Tuesday. Taking part in the call were Chief Executive Officer Linda McMahon, Chief Operating Officer Donna Goldsmith and Chief Financial Officer George Barrios.
Here are some highlights courtesy of PWInsider:
– In a prepared statement, Linda McMahon stressed the harsh economic environment having an effect on the WWE’s fourth quarter numbers. She mentioned a 10% reduction in staff that the company started in January as part of a $20 million reduction in operating costs in 2009. Plans to upgrade the media center has been put on hold at this time. She put over the deal with WGN TV and strong attendance for live events overseas.
– The delay on the media center upgrade will not effect the current production.
– With WWE signing a new TV deal with WGN, the company will now have programming on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday along with PPV events on Sunday’s. It was joked that WWE still has two nights left to try and grab.
– Difficulties with WWE DVD distributor Genius has had no negative effects on WWE’s production distribution.
– WWE video game sales are on the same level as last year.
– In regards to a drop in PPV buyrates, everyone avoided saying they have bottomed out and refused to predict the future regarding the numbers.
– It was pointed out that compared to the rest of the DVD history, WWE is “bucking the trend” and even while taking a hit is not showing steep decline like others.
– WrestleMania 25 will be part of the second quarter numbers for 2009 this year.
– Linda McMahon stated that she feels the popularity of the WWE brand is “strong” and added that viewership for Smackdown on MyNetworkTV increases every week.
– In regards to WWE reducing the number of PPV events due to declining buys, it was stated that it was “not in the works.”
– One heated discussion took place with one investor regarding WWE’s decision to continue issuing dividends instead of reinvesting money in the company saying it didn’t make sense.
– Linda said she felt the popularity of the WWE brand is “strong” and noted the week over week increase in Smackdown viewership since the move to MyNetwork TV as an example. She noted that some weeks ratings are “soft” but overall they are maintaining their audince.
– When asked if WWE were going to reduce the number of PPV events due to the declining buys, it was stated that it was “not in the works”. George Barrios responded to the question saying it “doesn’t make sense to you.”