Here is a full recap from today's WWE Network conference call:
Michael Weitz opened the call.
Vince McMahon mentioned the 142 worldwide trends in social media last night. He said that they surpassed 1.3 million subscribers. He said they wanted to talk about their subscriber growth. He talked about the new programs coming to the network..."Camp WWE" is one of them. He said think "South Park" in Superstar form. "Swerve" is a show about pranks on WWE Superstars, "Too Hot for TV," and he mentioned the "Diva Search." The Diva Search will be exclusive to the network.
Michael Weitz joined in on the call. Weitz talked about the 8 new original series coming to the network. He said WWE will span the globe to find the next WWE Diva. He said that there will be compelling specials and short form content. He said they are working on improving the user experience and continuing to expand in other countries.
1.3 million subscribers is the current count. That is double of what they did last year at this time. The February free promotion and WrestleMania helped drive subscribers.
All new subscribers that sign up in April will get it for free during that month. For the first quarter, their OIBDA is expected to exceed the projections of their guidance.
He mentioned that WWE's global strength will come from their brands....social media presense, YouTube, the WWE App, and the success of their TV programs around the world. He said WWE brands have tremendous global appeal.
The first woman that called said she loved the Ronda Rousey appearance. She said that it looks like WWE is attracting more mainstream talent to the WWE Network and asked if the overall budget goes up. Vince said these investments are important for growth and it's easier to attract talent now. He says they will stay ahead of the curve and it's easier to attract celebrities and those in the technology field and it points to growth coming down the line. She asked George Barrios if there was pay-per-view buys from traditional PPV besides the network number and if WWE lost money from people that switched from PPV. Barrios said PPV info is delayed so it's not available yet. He said Royal Rumble and Fastlane overperformed on traditional PPV. He talked about elasticity as being the reason why they've moved to the network and it will be a benefit in the long haul
Dan asks what the percentage of the subs from November are still with the network. Barrios says they haven't gone public with that number. Dan asked what a successful year would be this year. Barrios said that the network will be the business with the greatest visibility because of the data that they have. He said that it will be one day. He said as long as they show year over year growth then they'll feel very good about the network.
John asks about the cadence of original programming. Vince said that the budget will be flat this year for the network. Barrios said that they feel very good about the 8 new series and they will live and learn and see if that's the right number or not. John asked what it will take to get to 3 or 4 million subscribers and if there's a timetable. Barrios said 100 million homes have an active WWE fan so they are trying to get to 3 to 4 percent of those fans. He said they can't give a timeframe.
Mike asks if they are comfortable about what they are doing or if they would tinker with the pricing model. There could be different offers and price points at one point but he thinks $9.99 is the right price right now. Mike asked about international subscriptions. Barrios said each country is different because of different economics. Barrios said China and India have unique opportunities for WWE and they are already a powerful, strong brand in India as evident from their TV deal there and India will be an amazing story for WWE. He thinks there are a variety of options. He mentioned Netflix going at it alone in China. Mike asked about needing something domestic from a talent perspective in China and whether that's a consideration. Vince said the star quality of western quality is what they want to see (Cena, Lesnar, etc). Vince said it helps to have someone of Chinese extraction only if they are a star first.
Brandon asks if they would consider syndicating to Netflix or Amazon. Basically what AMC Networks did with Netflix. Barrios said yes, they are open to consider all options. He said the VOD element of the network is powerful but they would be open to other distribution. He talked about how their social and digital footprint gets them over the world and helps them engage.
Jamie asks if they are giving consideration to doing two price points for the network with another price point for pay per view events. Barrios said over time as they learn more they could do different things at different price points. Jamie asked about TAPOUT. He said they are really excited about it and there' s a space for high performance fitness gear and 2016 will be the real launch. He said you'll see TAPOUT in a lot of places.
Barrios was asked about international subscriber numbers. Barrios said they didn't give an international number. He was asked about traditional pay per view. He doesn't have Mania data yet. He was asked about network budget. Barrios said they spent 30 to 40 million last year (PPV, original content) on the network. On the talent side he didn't want to get into the talent side of spending. Barrios talked about the November and February free month trials but you need more observable data to learn about subscriber churn. He said that there is no one thing and its 100 different little things that add up over time and thats how you learn about churn. Vince was asked about the "lackluster" build for Mania but the response to the show was great. He asked about attendance, ratings, network subs and how it will affect business in the short and long term. Vince said it's about content and quality of it and there are doubters and people with certain opinions and every WrestleMania exceeds the previous one. He said they knew WrestleMania would be excellent and the drive was a last minute drive. He said there are many ways to invest in talent and they have a good track record year to year.
Robert said PPV was built on wrestling and boxing and now we are in a cord cutting world. He asked if there have been talks with cable operators to work together. Barrios said they've talked with partners around the world and cited Rogers in Canada and OSN in the Middle East. He said they would consider that in other markets. Vince said it's not about cord cutting but they are looking at using their platform in a favorable way. Vince talked about USA Network. He said they are flexible to continue to drive fans to watch Raw and Smackdown on traditional cable. Robert asked about TAPOUT and if there is anything else that they can do to leverage their brand in ways not expected. Barrios said that their core confidency is promoting, creating content, and distributing it and they are always looking at other things.
Jeffrey asks about the trending of WrestleMania on Facebook and how it went and the stream on the network. Barrios said the streaming performance is rock solid and they are proud of it. He said the facebook initiative was successful and worked great last night.
Vince was asked about target segments within their superfan base and how they are thinking about holding on to subscribers to reduce churn. Vince said they start with 18-34 males. He said they will definitely have programming for younger fans and older fans and they know how to reach those demos. Sting's name was brought up and how having Sting video on demand helps. Vince said they took someone from obscurity and developed that character and made it important and you have to have skills to take a product like Sting and make it a main event character. "With regards to Sting, we took him from obscurity, developed that character, and he ended up in one of the main events of WrestleMania"
Brad mentioned the 16, 17 million app downloads and paid attendance. He asked if they have insight on what percentage of people spend on WWE outside of the network. Barrios said they haven't been public with that data. Barrios mentioned the 4 billion youtube views and social media numbers. Barrios was asked if they have the ability to get more data on their customer base. Barrios said they are about 70 percent of the way there to getting that. Barrios was asked about Canada. He said they are fully distributed and Rogers has reached an agreement with all of the major providers.
That was the end of the call.