WWE Executive Discusses Network Subscriber Numbers, The Monday Night Wars Show, PPV, More
Posted by Larry Csonka on 05.23.2014
WWE CFO George Barrios speaks…
- WWE CFO George Barrios took part in a presentation at the Global Technology, Media & Telecom conference in Boston, MA this week. Here are the highlights, courtesy of Pwinsider.com…
The Monday Night Wars will debut "in the fall" on the WWE Network.
They need 1.3-1.4 million WWE subscribers to break even, assuming they lose the all of their PPV business. These are based on estimates based on the number of homes buying 3-4 PPVs a year given what information they have from cable and satellite providers.
They continue to provide PPV events to traditional distributors on a "al la carte" basis.
They monitor the quality of the WWE Network "by the second" after going through some rough patches on launch week.
On 3/30, they had "about" 500,000 subscribers for the Network. By WrestleMania Sunday 4/7, they had 667,000 subscribers. They will announce numbers quarterly going forward.
On the stock drop, they gave guidance levels based on different potential subscriber levels and "you don't know why the market reacts" the way it does, but they gave the information as it was available to the stockholders.
They've invested a lot into the Network and have invested a lot into the rest of the company as part of that investment, feeling it will be a major boon globally for them - including new international offices and international talents brought to their developmental system. They want to be prepared to take advantage of everything that is possible for them.
Once they have locked in all their TV deals, subscriber numbers for the WWE Network will be the catalyst going forward for the company, They have done research in a number of markets and believe globally, they can reach 2-4 million subscribers within 2-3 years. They can't predict the ramp-rate of subscribers as it's a "learn as you go" process.
On the company going into UFC or sport-like offshoot, Barrios said it's a question Vince McMahon gets all the time and with sports, you can't cultivate or create characters. On UFC as a competition, they don't see it as direct competition any different than any other sport. He claimed there wasn't much crossover in the audiences of WWE and UFC, as one is a family audience and the other is not.
Barrios said currently there should only be domestic Network subscribers but there are ways to trick your router and it's possible "there are a handful" of fans doing that.
They've known they were planning the Network for some time, so they have built some flexibility into their TV and PPV deals so they can present that material internationally when the Network expands.
Their average attendance outside the United States is higher because they don't hit those markets as often.
The belief is with the Network, they lower the price of the PPV content to $10 and give people far more as a way to increase the number of homes buying the content vs. the price of traditional three hour PPVs. This is their way to make lifetime subscribers.
Apple gets 30% of any subscribers made through them. There are similar deals for other platforms, such as a Roku.
They have discussed advertisements on the Network, but haven't made a decision on that. Their current evaluations do not contain potential money from advertisers.
They don't maintain credit cards on file as they use partners to process that material.
They feel that the five hours of prime-time TV is a great place to drive the Network business as well as their social media.