WWE posts record results
Updated 4:42 pm, Thursday, February 8, 2018
STAMFORD — WWE produced record revenues and adjusted earnings in 2017, boosted by a growing audience, according to its latest financial report released Thursday.
Annual revenues increased 10 percent to $801 million, while adjusted earnings jumped 40 percent to about $112 million.
Profits for the year totaled $32.6 million, down about 3.5 percent from 2016. The dip reflected one-time charges totaling $11.3 million linked to the re-measurement of the company’s deferred tax assets and repatriation of foreign earnings, after the passage of the new U.S. tax law. WWE officials said, however, they were optimistic about the reform’s long-term impact on their business.
“Our operating metrics demonstrate the strength of our content and brands worldwide, which positions us well to achieve our long-term objectives,” Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon said in a statement. “We will continue to focus on creating compelling content for multiple platforms, leveraging data analytics and capitalizing on international opportunities to drive our continued growth.”
For the fourth quarter of 2017, revenues rose about 9 percent to nearly $212 million. Quarterly adjusted earnings leaped 70 percent to about $35 million.
An expanding audience fueled the increasing earnings. WWE Network’s average paid subscriber base reached 1.48 million in the fourth quarter, up 5 percent from the same period in 2016.
WWE’s YouTube channel remained the most-viewed sports channel and the second-most watched overall on the platform, with 20 billion total views, at the end of January.
Among recent milestones, WWE celebrated last month the 25th anniversary of Monday Night Raw. Meanwhile, SmackDown passed 950 episodes and ranks as the second-longest running episodic program in its history after Raw.
In another coup, former UFC champion Ronda Rousey made her debut, as a newly signed WWE superstar, at the Jan. 28 Royal Rumble in Philadelphia.
New and upcoming initiatives partnerships including the Mixed Match Challenge series, which streams on Facebook Watch; the “Miz & Mrs.” show, which will air on USA; and virtual reality programming from certain events that will be available on a new WWE channel in the NextVR app.
The company is aiming for record revenues and adjusted earnings again in 2018.
“In the coming year, our key initiatives include delivering a wide range of content across all our platforms, continuing to build out our data and technology infrastructure and investing in global markets where we see great long-term opportunity,” George Barrios, WWE’s chief strategy and financial officer, said in an earnings call Thursday.
In another announcement Thursday, WWE said it had promoted Barrios and Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer Michelle Wilson to co-presidents. The duo were also appointed to the company’s board of directors and will continue to report directly to McMahon.
Separate from WWE, McMahon, a Greenwich resident, announced last month he planned to relaunch the XFL professional football league in 2020. The new venture would not affect his leadership of WWE, he said.
WWE shares closed Thursday at $33.84, flat compared with their Wednesday closing total.
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