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WWE First Quarter Conference Call Highlights

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The WWE first quarter conference call took place this morning. People that were on the call included WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, WWE CFO George Barrios, and WWE Investor Relations Michael Weitz. Here are some of the highlights of the call.

-Vince McMahon opened the show and said the key metrics, including live events, were pretty much flat.

-Vince said WrestleMania looks pretty good based on the WWE Network count combined with pay-per-views.

-Vince noted the Xbox One launch of WWE Network and noted that smart televisions are coming soon.

-Vince said they are in the middle of India television rights negotiations. He said they will have domestic television details over the next few weeks.

-Barrios said they 667,000 count for WWE Network works out to roughly $80 million annually and noted that it’s more than they generated domestically from pay-per-view.

-Corporate and other expenses increased $5.3 million to $37.7 million from the prior year quarter. It’s listed as including “corporate overhead and certain expenses related to sales, marketing, and talent development costs.”

-WWE took an $8.6 million hit for WWE launch costs that included customer service, programming, and marketing.

-Barrios said the company is continuing to negotiate the television rights deals in India and the United States. He said that because the negotiations are ongoing, they would not be answering any questions on the matter today.

-Barrios said they are planning a network global launch for later this year. They also intend to report the subscriber count on a quarterly basis.

-They moved to the Q&A round. Barrios noted that the production costs for WrestleMania are included with the network numbers.

-A caller asked for a projected subscriber count in 2015. Barrios declined but mentioned two to three million as a target without giving a date.

-A caller noted that she covers Netflix. She praised WWE Network and the fact that WWE owns its own content and might end up in more markets than Netflix. She asked about the projected numbers of two to three million subscribers. Barrios said that’s a domestic estimate. Vince noted that it’s a very conservative estimate.

-A caller asked about the nuances of launching WWE Network internationally. Barrios said they are still working through things so he wouldn’t get into “a lot of color.” He said one of the things that have come through loud and clear is that people want the network as soon as they can get it.

-Barrios noted that 720,000 fans bought WrestleMania 29 domestically. A caller noted that they lost roughly half of their domestic buyers. He spoke about the cannibalization of pay-per-view. The caller threw out a lot of info during his question and Barrios noted that he would get back to him about it because he lost him.

-Barrios said DirecTV isn’t taking the next pay-per-view. He said they are unsure of who will and who will not carry their pay-per-view events in the future. Barrios noted that Dish Network had yet to make an official announcement but customer service is pushing people to the WWE Network app.

-A caller asked how much WWE intends to spend on non-wrestling based programming. Barrios said they wouldn’t speak specifically, but he did not that they are happy with the way Legends’ House has performed thus far.

-A caller asked how many WWE Network subscribers signed up for the auto-renewal. Barrios declined the say anything publicly about that number.

-A caller asked what the model is on how talent will be paid for pay-per-views now that they are available on the network. Barrios said they have not commented publicly on that.

-Barrios said all of the platforms they are working with have a model for the cut of the revenue they receive for hosting WWE Network. He said Apple’s model is well known as a 70-30 split. He said there are negotiations with the others and those companies don’t publicize their split, so he declined to comment on that. This concluded the conference call.

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Highlights of the call were courtesy of ProWrestling.net.

About Steve Muehlhausen

Steve Muehlhausen
Steven was a featured UFC columnist for Bleacher Report and a writer for MMASucka.com. He was also the host of the MMA show "The Fight Club Chicago" which aired for three years at various websites. You can email Steve at stevemuehlhausen@yahoo.com.

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