WWE held their third quarter 2017 conference call today. Michael Weiss opened the call and noted that Vince McMahon, George Barrios, Michelle Wilson and Triple H were on the call. Vince McMahon opened the call and said that he knows everyone already has the numbers and then reviewed the major things that were released. Vince said that they are looking for great numbers in China and then talked about how the localized review shows in different localized markets are doing pretty well for them. Vince said that they are moving more and more in that way and believes that it will help them in many ways. Vince noted that they signed several female names from the Middle East and India, to which Triple H noted that these were the signings of Kavita Devi and Shadia Bseizo. Vince put over the upcoming tour of India, as well as the digital media views and social media platforms, something he said were of extreme importance to the future of the company. Vince said that they have secured 20 new advertisers as part of their relationship with NBCUniversal and said that they are looking forward to a record 2018, before noting that they have nearly 200 advertisers via NBCUniversal now.

Vince passed things along to George Barrios who began to review the numbers and said that TV licensing was up $4.1 million in this quarter, that the WWE Network averaged over 1.52 million subscribers, in line with their guidance and that the subscribers are up 4% from the same quarter last year. Barrios said that other licensing was up $2.1 million, which is credited to mobile game sales being up, before noting that they continue to shift to a direct to consumer business with the WWE Network and more. Michelle Wilson said that the WWE Performance Center now has 40% international talent and that the company are making moves to meet their global audience with localized shows and the WWE Network being launched via PPTV in China. Wilson said that new deals with advertisers and sponsors have led to a 29% increase in advertisers internationally, while they are looking at hitting the 200 billion video views mark before the end of 2017. Barrios took back over and continued to review the numbers. Barrios noted that the WWE RAW and WWE SmackDown Live deals in the United States will expire in September 2019 and that they will open negotiations in that regard next year. Barrios said that they expect to announce a new deal between September 2018 and May 2019, before noting that the United Kingdom and India deals will be expiring in late 2019, with them opening negotiations on both deals in the second half of 2018. Michael Weiss then noted that it was now time for the question and answers part of the conference call.

The first question asked if there was an exclusive window for NBCUniversal to negotiate before they can talk to other players. George Barrios said that he did not want to break that down and that they have communication with other outlets, so they know what the other outlets visions are and that he wants to make sure they understand the WWE’s vision. The next question asked about their investment in their digital media. George Barrios said that it was important in regards to the data that they are building and how they can go deep with that data to serve their customers for what will put smiles on their faces and offer them specific content. The next question asked about the 20 new advertisers that have come on board and where they are coming from and whether there was any churn on NBCUniversal advertisers. George Barrios said that the ads have been an incremental growth over time, going from 100 to now over 200 and that they had been previously waiting for studios to come to them for advertisement, but now they have blue chip advertisers including Toyota, Cricket Wireless and more.

The next question asked if the decline in NFL ratings are a concern for them in terms of the payment for live sports programming. George Barrios said that around 7 or 8 years ago, they sat down and discussed how important it was to own the social and digital media platforms and said that they have paid close attention to building that, but they however still believe in the pay TV platform and said that they believe there will still be bundles, although those bundles may be different and that RAW and SmackDown Live are still powerful in the marketplace and they will see what happens as the landscape continues to change. The next question asked about the localization of content for the WWE Network and competition in the space. George Barrios said that they are not a general entertainment platform like Netflix and that it is there to superserve their most passionate fans. Barrios said that they have been working on localization on all of their platforms and predicted that they will have multiple tiers and that it will be broadcast in more than one language. Barrios said that they are balancing growth with timing and that they are broadcasting pay-per-views live in 9 languages. The same caller asked where things stood at the moment with the United Kingdom brand, but Barrios said that he did not want to address that at this time.

The next question asked about details on what they are seeing in China since they launched the WWE Network over there. Barrios said that it is a long play in the market and it is still too early, before noting that they and their partners have been pleased with the early sign-ups in that market and that they have a team on the ground there for digital and social and are presenting WWE RAW and SmackDown Live there on a live basis. The next question specifically asked Vince McMahon about programming, asking why they were not doing the moves that WWE is making internationally around 15 years ago. George Barrios stepped in and said that things as we all know have changed and before, they had to find space in those local markets, where as now, they can get that content into any broadband enabled home in the world and said that WWE is different with resources and infrastructure today that it did not have back then and that the world has changed and so has the company itself, stating that they have muscles now that they did not have back then. Vince McMahon then quipped that he thought Barrios answered that question very well.

The next question asked about women talent and whether the return they are getting comes from data for the WWE Network. George Barrios said that they get the data from the Nielsen data, the WWE Network and other aspects of data and time is their economic unit and they can see that they are getting people to spend time with their content. The next question asked whether the original WWE Network programming is taxing their resources. George Barrios said that they have been doing 70-80 hours per quarter and they do 500 hours of archival content per quarter and debut about 70 hours now. The next question asked about whether they can get international subscriptions higher over time. Barrios said that they are growing slowly and their ability to go direct to consumer is important and some quarters will be better than others and they are not losing sleep, as they are focused on the long-term. The next question asked about the female competitors and how shocking it is that women’s wrestling is growing in the United States and what percentage of the roster are women and how much that impacts their relationships with business partners. Barrios said that 35% of the roster currently is female and that it has been a vision that Paul Levesque brought to the company when he joined the management team. Barrios then pushed the importance of the feedback that they get, the social media trends and more and that when they see that, they are obviously going to invest in it, noting that the Mae Young Classic viewership was on par with the male tournaments that they have done.