WWE has biggest year in its history with over $1 billion in revenue

Originally published at WWE has biggest year in its history with over $1 billion in revenue

WWE surpassed all previous profitably markers with the most successful year of the promotion’s history.

Thursday’s fourth-quarter and year-end earnings report saw the company post over $1 billion in revenue for the year with over $180 million in profit.

For the fourth quarter, they announced a net income of $63.9 million off revenues of $310.3 million for the quarter. Core content rights fees for the quarter were $153 million compared to $139.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The company had come just short of the ten-figure revenue mark last year, growing from $974,207,000 in 2020 to $1,095,000,000 over the past year.

Their income total for the year included $6.3 million spent in after-tax severance expenses when they consolidated their television, digital, and studio years last year under one umbrella. There was also a tax gain of $5.2 for a lease reduction related to the construction of its new headquarters, which will take up the lion’s share of his capital expenditures in 2022.

The company’s media division is head-and-shoulders above every other area of business and strengthened by its escalating core content rights that brought in $575.8 million for the year, which represents an increase of 7 percent increase from 2020.

Advertising & Sponsorships continue to grow with $71.5 million in revenue for the year. chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon-Levesque believes that there is no reason the division cannot be generating “hundreds of millions of dollars” in the years ahead citing their ability to monetize and leverage their talent IP in unique ways.

Over the course of the year, WWE’s stock repurchase program saw the company buy back $165.6 million in shares while paying out $36.4 million in dividends.

The Consumer Products division yielded revenues of $101.2 million for the year, up from $86.1 million in 2020.

Online orders decreased 19 percent from 722,300 orders in 2020 compared to 586,600 this year.

Live Events were a major item to monitor over the past year as the pandemic wiped out house shows from March 2020 until July 2021.

Over the course of the year, 88 events were staged attracting 664,700 fans or 6,880 per event with an average ticket price of $76.08. International touring was limited to 13 events that draw approximately 60,000 fans or 4,930 per event at an average ticket price of $4,930.

While once a cornerstone for pro wrestling promotions, live events are responsible for 5 percent of WWE’s net revenues now.

While the third quarter was bolstered by the return of fans to live events with more than $28 million in revenue for the live events division, the fourth quarter performance dropped to $20.1 million in revenue (although the third quarter was accentuated by SummerSlam at Allegiant Stadium).

The fourth quarter saw 38 events with an average of 5,300 per show, down from 8,300 in the third quarter on 48 events (again, SummerSlam contributed with over 45,000 in attendance and 41,000 paid).

Regarding television in the fourth quarter, Raw averaged 1,631,000 viewers going against Monday Night Football throughout the fourth quarter, which is down 7 percent from the prior year’s quarter during the ThunderDome era, however, it was below the drop of USA Network during the same period (18%) and the top 25 cable networks (down by 22%).

SmackDown averaged 1,932,000 viewers during the fourth quarter, which was down by 8 percent from last year’s quarter. This year, Fox is up 10 percent, while the big four broadcast networks are down 1 percent.

In the Key Performance Indicators, there was a noticeable drop in AVOD (Advertiser-supported video on demand) where global hours viewed peaked in Q3 with 411 and dropped to 307 (its lowest since Q1 of 2019). This was explained with the quarter not featuring a premium live event (which they didn’t stage the traditional December event but they did add an NXT War Games show for Peacock) as well as the elimination of full matches on YouTube and Facebook.

For social media followings, neither Facebook nor Twitter has shown much growth over the past year. Twitter has barely fluctuated from 2019 to the present with Q1 of 2019 listed at 222 million followers and is the same amount as Q4 of 2021 with little movement over the two years. “Other platforms” have shown a steady rise going from 281 million in Q1 of 2019 to 411 million for the past quarter.

The earnings calls featured Vince McMahon, Nick Khan, Stephanie McMahon-Levesque, and recently installed CFO Frank Riddick, who replaced the outgoing Kristina Salen.

Khan spoke of the expanded viewership of its premium events on Peacock by noting that 3.5 million paid subscribers on the streamer have watched WWE content since they arrived last March.

Without giving actual viewership stats, Khan compared the recent events in 2021 to their 2019 counterparts (when they had fans in attendance) noting that Money in the Bank viewership was by 25 percent, SummerSlam was up over 30 percent, Extreme Rules was up 20 percent, the October event in Saudi Arabia was up by 75 percent, and Survivor Series was up almost 25 percent.

Khan added that this past Saturday’s Royal Rumble was up about 45 percent from the 2020 version and that the event marked the second-largest gate and highest merchandise figures in the history of the Rumble.

Khan mentioned the recent WWE Network licensing deal with Disney+ Hotstar in Indonesia and to “look for more in the international rights space in the not too distant future”.

Khan was extremely bullish on the replay rights of Raw, which are up later this year noting the company is as confident about those rights as they were when Raw and SmackDown’s rights were up a few years ago, and the WWE Network’s domestic streaming rights that went to Peacock.

He shared his views on the continuing trend of consolidation among big companies noting areas of gaming, and theme parks, and all of them are content and platform-based plays.

When asked about the events in Saudi Arabia by an analyst regarding the staging of two events per year, Khan asked, “Why just limit it to two?”. In the past, it had been noted that if any events in Saudi Arabia were missed, they would tack them onto the end of the deal. Due to the pandemic, there are two outstanding events with one missed in 2020 and one event that didn’t happen in 2021. With each show worth about $50 million, it would make a notable difference if they could hold more than two this year.

Riddick added that the Peacock deal included a big sum up front that was reflected in the Q1 2021 earnings, which won’t be there this year. The deal with Peacock calls for a fixed amount of revenue paid out but added that the opportunity is there to earn more through sponsorship money, but it is not based on viewership markers.

John Pollock will be joined by Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics on the POST Daily News Show on Friday at 1 p.m. ET.