The WWE released their fourth-quarter and year-end earnings report for 2017 on Thursday.
For the quarter, the company posted revenues of $221.6 million and a net income of $4.8 million. This was offset by a $1.5 million film impairment charge.
The company announced a new company record with $801 million in total revenue with net income of $32.6 million. To compare with 2016, the company’s overall revenue was up from $729,116,000 although net income was slightly down from the $33.8 million made the year prior.
Due to the new corporate tax rate the company will receive, they did have to incur a one-time charge of $11.4 million because of the new tax law. This is broken down to $10.9 million from the remeasurement of its deferred tax assets and $400,000 for repatriation of foreign earnings.
The WWE Network ended the year with a total of 1,547,000 subscribers worldwide with 1,471,000 of those being paid subscribers. The subscribers break down to 1,159,000 from the U.S. (1,065,000 paid) and 419,000 international subscribers (406,000 paid) with the total number of free subs at 76,000.
The fourth-quarter saw 377,000 new subscribers to the network but that was offset by 413,000 cancellations for a churn of 36,000.
They are forecasting a paid subscriber number of 1.53 million for the first-quarter of 2018, which be the average as of March 31st (one week before WrestleMania, where the network should hit its peak for the year).
The earnings call primarily focused on the forthcoming television renewals and Ronda Rousey. The company repeated that they plan to announce new U.S. television rights deal between May and September of this year, a U.K. deal by the end of the year and a new deal for India in the first half of 2019.
Vince McMahon, George Barrios, and Michelle Wilson played their cards close to the vest regarding the television negotiations. McMahon chuckled when an analyst tried to pry some additional information out of them about a higher demand for the rights during this period as compared to the last time the rights were up.
Barrios and Wilson have also been promoted to co-presidents of the WWE and appointed to the company’s board of directors.
Rousey was brought up several times during the conference call and it is very rare that any analysts or even the company executives cite specific performers on these calls. Paul Levesque spoke during the call and said her contract was a “multi-year deal” with McMahon crediting Levesque and Stephanie McMahon for Rousey’s signing. It was clear during the call how big of a name Rousey is to the investor side of the company as a possible needle mover and leverage in the upcoming television negotiations.
On the Mixed Match Challenge, they promoted the success of the show but when citing the viewing data, they revealed a strange finding. Wilson cited 12 million total minutes viewed for the series with 6 million viewers and doing the simple math, that would equate to 2 minutes of average watch time for 20+ minute shows.
They will also be changing how they calculate adjusted OIBDA with the elimination of stock-based compensation expenses. With the adjusted calculation, they are projecting $140 million in adjusted OIBDA for 2018.