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Vince McMahon on Paul Heyman’s departure, AEW/NXT ratings compared to Raw/SmackDown and more from WWE’s 2020 second quarter earnings conference call

WWE held its 2020 second quarter earnings conference call on Thursday that featured WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon, SVP Financial Planning & Investor Relations Michael Weitz and acting WWE CFO Frank A. Riddick III. Here are the highlights:

– The conference call opens with a welcome to everyone on the call.

– McMahon ran through the highlights of their earnings. McMahon touted the strong financial performance in the quarter despite the “challenging environment.” He also touted record viewership on digital platforms during WrestleMania week and credited cost savings for the good numbers this quarter. 

– Riddick ran through the revenue numbers. WWE Network average paid subscribers declined 1.5% to 1.66 million while ending paid subscribers increased 6% to 1.69 million. Revenues were $223.4 million as compared to $268.9 million in the prior year quarter. Live event revenues declined to $1.0 million from $48.8 million in the prior year quarter primarily due to the absence of them. Operating income was $55.7 million as compared to $17.1 million in the prior year quarter

– This was when they opened the call up for questions.

– McMahon was asked about TV viewership and how concerned he is with the decline of ratings in addition to his strategy to turn it around. Vince said the audience is integral to the ratings. However, he thinks they need new and better characters and more compelling storylines. He also stated that they can have more content outside of the ring. 

– When asked about holding another event in Saudi Arabia this year, McMahon stated, “the decision hasn’t been made yet but given where they are with their economy, I would doubt it.”

– Regarding the free version of the WWE Network, Riddick noted that WWE Network viewership is up for free and for paid subscribers. McMahon stated they have not hurt themselves by going with it instead of the 30-day free offering to the entire service. 

– McMahon was asked why viewership numbers for AEW and NXT have rebounded better than Raw and SmackDown in the COVID-19 era. He stated those two programs are newer. He stated that it’s up to them to make Raw and SmackDown new and youthful. He added that you have to always build characters. 

– There was a question about Paul Heyman’s exit from Raw creative and McMahon put him over for doing a good job at being creative. 

– Another ratings question was about how long it will take to rebuild viewership. McMahon stated, “the audience is integral to what we do. I would like to think it’s months away.”

– Riddick said that acquiring EVOLVE was a small size content purchase deal with no M&A opportunities associated with it.


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