Less than a month after the WWE announced U.S. broadcast deals for Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live (worth $468 million/year), the wrestling promotion renewed its partnership with Foxtel for a 19th consecutive year. The newly signed pact ensures the WWE’s two highly-rated weekly cable shows (and PPV events) will continue to air live in Australia, but also gives FOX8 the rights to re-air Raw and SmackDown in prime-time on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings; Foxtel will carry one-hour versions of each program, in primetime, each week on Fox Sports and will make the shows available on demand following the initial broadcast. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Howie Long-Short: When the WWE announced their U.S. deals in early July, we wrote “WWE isn’t done yet either, broadcast deals in 5 of their 6 largest international markets are also coming up for renegotiation. It’s now projected that the company’s 7 largest TV deals in aggregate will grow from $235 million in 2018 to an average of $542 million by 2021.” The 7 markets I was referencing were the US, UK, India, Canada, Latin America, Middle East and South Africa, so, any revenue coming from the Australian market would be on top of that figure.
Q2 ’18 was another landmark quarter for the WWE. The company posted record quarterly revenue (+31% to $281.6 million) and reported it had nearly doubled operating income (to $21.2 million) from the prior year quarter, news that sent share prices to a new all-time high ($85.93) on Thursday July 26th. The +31% revenue increase represents the company’s greatest YoY sales increase in 2 years.
In addition to strong financials, WWE reported significant growth in digital engagement; video views rose +58% YoY (to 14.4 billion) and the number of hours consumed watching WWE content across digital/social grew a staggering +71% YoY (to 509 million). The company also just crossed the 30 million subscriber threshold on YouTube, a figure that represents a larger following on the platform than that of the NBA, NFL, MLS, MLB, NHL, PGA TOUR and NASCAR combined.
While YouTube subscribers don’t directly correlate into dollars, WWE Network subscriptions do; and the company reported paid subs rose +10% (to 1.8 million) during the quarter ending June 30th. Co-President George Barrios said the company plans on growing its international subscriber base by adding more localized content and languages.
WWE shares are up +268% over the last 12 months, closing at $77.60 on Wednesday.
Fan Marino: The WWE recently announced it will host the company’s first all-women’s PPV event, entitled Evolution, on October 28th. The event, which will be live streamed on the WWE Network, will feature more than 50 female competitors from Monday Night Raw, SmackDown Live, NXT and NXT UK rosters. While current stars like Sasha Banks and Ronda Rousey are sure to be in attendance, so too are WWE Hall of Famers Trish Stratus and Lite; both already confirmed to be participating.
Speaking of Hall of Fame wrestlers, Hulk Hogan was recently reinstated by the WWE into their Hall of Fame after a 3-year suspension (racism). While that news does little for me (I don’t want to watch 64-year-old Hogan wrestle), whispers of the Rock’s potential return at WM35 are thrilling. It would only be fitting that the biggest mainstream star in the organization’s history would headline the marquee show.
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