The WWE reported their first-quarter earnings on Thursday covering January – March. The company posted a profit of $14.8 million for the quarter off of revenue of $187.7 million as compared to a profit in Q1 of 2017 of $900,000 from revenue of $188.4 million. Last year’s minimal profit was due to a series of corporate expenses that ate away at the profit margin, including $5.6 million in legal expenses and $2.1 million in film impairment charges.
The company is now dividing their reporting into three major categories consisting of Media, Live Events, and Consumer Products.
The media section, which includes the WWE Network, existing pay-per-view revenue and their television rights fees totaled $133.4 million in revenue. Television rights fees saw a sizable increase from $59.2 million in the same quarter in 2017 and grew to $65.5 million for this year. In addition to their core programming, this past quarter also featured the Mixed Match Challenge series on Facebook Watch.
The WWE Network had 1,681,000 total subscribers worldwide that breaks down to 1,232,000 in the United States and 449,000 international subscribers. The worldwide paid total is 1,624,000 with 57,000 free subscriptions (which jumped dramatically in the first week of April to 316,000 for WrestleMania). On the day after WrestleMania 34, there were 2,124,000 total subscribers with 1,808,000 paid. The paid number on the day after WrestleMania would also include people that were paying for the network on one of the many discount promotions that were being offered from January through WrestleMania.
The company is forecasting an average paid subscriber number of 1,770,000 for the second-quarter of 2018, which is the WrestleMania quarter.
Live Events were down for the quarter despite more events. With 99 events taking place this quarter, they posted revenue of $30.8 million, which is down from $32.1 million in 2017, which featured 95 events (four of which took place internationally compared to zero international shows this past quarter). One of the key differences in 2017 was that the Royal Rumble was held at the Alamodome whereas this year’s Rumble was at the smaller Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia.
It’s also worth noting that due to the timing of WrestleMania last year on April 2nd, 2017, events such as Axxess and the WWE Hall of Fame would have taken place in Q1 of 2017, while NXT Takeover and WrestleMania would be in Q2. This year, the WrestleMania events are all part of the Q2 filings.
Consumer Products were down from $35.l million in revenue to $23.5 million with the implementation of ASC Topic 606, an accounting change that led to the company seeing a reduction in $9.7 million in revenue in this segment and a reduction of $10.3 million overall for the quarter.
News of today’s report led to the WWE stock moving upward and closing at $41.39.