TV segment pulls up WWE Network despite lower revenue: Q3-16 OIBDA

BENGALURU: Despite a 13.7 per cent decline in WWE’s Television segment of its Media Division revenue, the segment reported a 21.8 per cent (year-over-year) y-o-y growth in OIBDA (Operating Income before Depreciation and Amortisation) for the quarter ended 30 September 2016 (Q3-16, current quarter) as compared to the corresponding year-ago quarter.

WWE reported revenues of $164.2 million in Q3-16, 1.2 per cent lower than $166.2 million in Q3-15. The company’s OIBDA in the current quarter at $24.5 million was 4.7 more than the $23.4 million in Q3-15. The company reported net income of $11.1 million, or $0.14 per diluted share, as compared to net income of $10.4 million, or $0.14 per

diluted share, in the corresponding prior year quarter.

WWE has four divisions – Media Division, Live Events, Consumer Products and WWE Studios. Its largest division is the Media Division which has four segments, the largest of which is Television, followed by the Network Segment. Digital Media and Home Entertainment Segments are the other two segments of the Media Division.

Company Speak

“During the quarter, we continued to effectively execute our content strategy, which has resulted in record revenues to-date in 2016 and increased consumption across our media platforms,” said WWE chairman & CEO Vince McMahon. “This growth illustrates meaningful progress against our long-term strategic plan and provides the foundation for achieving our 2017 financial objectives.”

WWE Chief Strategy & Financial Officer George Barrio stated, “We achieved a 24 per cent increase in average paid subscribers to WWE Network  and generated profits that were within the range of our guidance. We expect continued year-over-year growth in subscribers and profits for the fourth quarter resulting in strong full year performance that is in-line with our previous business outlook.”

Media Division

The Media Division reported revenue of $110.4 million in the current quarter, which was 3.9 per cent lower y-o-y than $114.9 million. The Division’s OIBDA for the current quarter increased 9.2 per cent y-o-y to $53.3 million from $48.8 million.

Television segment revenue declined to $56.3 million in Q3-16 from $65.2 million in Q3-15. The company attributes this decline to “contractual increases in key distribution agreements were more than offset by the prior year impact of WWE’s licensed reality series, Total Divas and Tough Enough. There were no scheduled airings of these programs in the third quarter 2016, while the prior year quarter reflected approximately $14 million in revenue from the fourth season of Total Divas  (13 episodes) and  Tough Enough  (8 episodes).’

Television segment’s OIBDA in the current quarter was $32.4 million versus $26.6 million in Q3-15.

Network Segment revenues, which include revenue generated by WWE Network and pay-per-view, increased 10 percent to $45.1 million.   WWE Network subscription revenue increased 18 per cent to $42.8 million from $36.4 million in the prior year quarter based on a 24 per cent year-over-year increase in average paid subscribers to 1.46 million says the company.

WWE Network says that it had 1.44 million total paid subscribers at the end of the third quarter, which represented a 17 percent increase from September 30, 2015. WWE Network had 1.07 million U.S. paid subscribers and 373,000 international paid subscribers at quarter-end.

Network segment OIBDA of $17.4 million was essentially unchanged from the prior year quarter ($17.7 million) as the growth in WWE Network subscription revenue was offset by increased programming expenses, including a $3.2 million allocation of certain expenses shared between the company’s Network and Television segments. A portion of the increase in Network programming expenses relates to the company’s previously communicated strategic investments.

WWE Network content, including pay-per-views, original series, NXT Takeover, and specials has continued to drive viewer engagement. During the quarter, the company says it has introduced compelling new content for WWE Network, including NXT Takeover Brooklyn III,   Holy Foley!,   WWE Draft Center Live, and Cruiserweight Classic, a 10-week global tournament.  The company says it is on pace to add more than 300 hours of original content to the network’s featured programming in 2016, and more than 2,500 hours of archival content to  WWE Network, which would result in an on-demand library of over 7,000 hours at year-end 2016.

Live events

Live Event revenues increased 9.6 per cent to $28.6 million from $26.1 million primarily due to the staging of 5 additional international events.

Consumer Products

Revenues from Consumer Products decreased 3.6 per cent to $21.6 million as higher online sales of merchandise at the Company’s e-commerce sites were more than offset by a reduction in licensing revenue.  Licensing revenues decreased 21.7 percent to $9.0 million primarily due to a lower effective royalty rate for our franchise video game,WWE 2K16, and lower sales of toy products.

WWE Studios

Revenues from filmed entertainment increased to $2.5 million as compared to $1.7 million in the prior year quarter.  The increase in revenue was due to the performance and timing of results from the company’s portfolio of movies. During the quarter, WWE Studios released two feature films, Scooby Doo! and WWE: Curse of the Speed Demon and Interrogation.  WWE Studios OIBDA increased $1.8 million due, in part, to the increase in revenues, and agreed changes to the terms of distribution of a previously released film, which resulted in lower expenses.

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