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WWE Q3 RESULTS: News from McMahon Conference Call - Summerslam a "swing and a miss," TV negotiation & Network updates, WWE to undergo restructuring?

Oct 31, 2013 - 10:36:14 AM
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By James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

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WWE's quarterly conference call with investors produced expanded commentary on weak Summerslam results, more optimism from WWE management on their TV deals and Network launch, and an interesting admission that WWE could undergo a restructuring if their TV investments do not pan out.

- WWE CEO Vince McMahon addressed Summerslam's performance in his opening remarks and in the only question asked during the Q&A Session.

"They didn't buy the attraction," McMahon said of Summerslam. "And these PPVs are attraction based."

Later during the Q&A Session, McMahon was asked how WWE can improve PPV business, or if they're simply waiting to push the PPVs to the Network. McMahon replied that he believes it comes down to "having the right attraction and promotion," nothing else.

"Summerslam was not the right attraction," McMahon chuckled. "That was a swing and a miss."

- Regarding TV business, WWE management revealed that NBC Universal has an "exclusive negotiating window" in the First Quarter of 2014 for Raw and Smackdown. Then, if the window passes, WWE will look elsewhere.

WWE believes this process will occur very quickly, which is why they're confident the top domestic deals will be renegotiated by April 2014.

McMahon and WWE CFO George Barrios conveyed strong confidence that WWE will receive favorable TV deals because of the "rising value of content." McMahon likened WWE programming to NASCAR, attempting to link WWE to a sports organization that just signed a billion-dollar TV deal with NBC and Fox.

Internationally, McMahon said WWE has a negotiating window with BSkyB in the U.K. to renew one of their key TV deals. "We are actively pursuing that going forward," McMahon said.

- Regarding the proposed Network, WWE management re-stressed that they are considering traditional TV distribution (cable/satellite) and "over-the-top" models (Internet distribution), placing a potential launch in a window of 6-9 months.

Overall, McMahon said "if the stars line up - which we are working hard to ensure," they believe the TV content initiatives will "transform" their business. Meaning, WWE is confident they will "double or triple" their 2012 earnings by 2015.

However, if this does not pan out, George Barrios inserted an interesting comment that WWE would undergo management restructuring.

Asked during the Q&A what that would entail, Barrios and McMahon said WWE would essentially cut costs back to the level they were at before making long-term investments in TV expansion initiatives to keep WWE profitable.

Caldwell's Analysis: McMahon was vague on what he felt the attempted "attraction" was for Summerslam. Last year, it was Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar. Was this year Lesnar vs. C.M. Punk? Or, the idea of Daniel Bryan being presented like a fan who won a contest to get a WWE Title shot against John Cena? I believe Summerslam being a "swing and a miss" comes down to the presentation of Bryan leading into Summerslam, Brock Lesnar being damaged goods as a PPV draw, and the general population of WWE fans not accepting Punk and Bryan as major PPV-headliners yet. The way Bryan was presented leading into Summerslam did not help his long-term drawing potential, while Punk will require time to be accepted for a few reasons, one being that he appeals more to the "hardcore WWE fan" who typically already buys WWE events.

[Torch art credit Grant Gould (c) PWTorch.com]


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