WWE reported record revenue ($801 million, +10% YOY) for full-year 2017, with adjusted OIBDA (operating income before depreciation and amortization) also setting a company record ($101.6 million, +40%). For Q4 ’17, the company increased revenue 9% YOY to $211.6 million; while increasing paid subscribers to the WWE Network from 1.41 million to 1.48 million. Along with the earnings report, the WWE issued a statement announcing that Chief Marketing Officer Michelle Wilson and Chief Financial Officer George Berrios are being promoted to co-presidents (and being given spots on the board) as a reward for “their contributions to four years of record revenues and the successful transformation to a multiplatform business model.”
Howie Long-Short: WWE shares are up 62% since October 25th, 2017 (and 14% in 2018). The primary catalyst is the optimism surrounding the company’s next series of television contracts. RAW and SmackDown deals expire Sept. 30, ’19, while broadcast deals in India and the U.K. will end on December 31, 2019. It’s not just broadcast television providers that are interested in the WWE though; 70 new brands have signed on as sponsors since the start of 2015 and corporate sponsorships grew 29% YOY in 2017.
Fan Marino: Paul Levesque (Triple H) noted on the earnings call that the company is finalizing contract terms (i.e. not yet done despite rumors/reports) on a multi-year deal with Ronda Rousey. This isn’t a publicity stunt for the WWE; Levesque was clear in stating “we are her #1 focus and goal. This is her life now. She wants to be with us for a long-time.” Seems like a win-win to me; Rousey brings additional star power to a burgeoning women’s division, while she makes a lucrative living without having to be punched in the face daily. I also LOVE that she’s adopting the Rowdy Roddy Piper gimmick (or at least attire).
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