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February 20, 2014

Vince McMahon conference call coverage: Operating income loss in quarter; incomplete answers on television negotiations and carriage of WrestleMania XXX; expected losses in 2014

Vince McMahon and members of senior management hosted a conference call pertaining to the 2013 fourth quarter report that was released on February 20, 21014. The following are the highlights of the call.

-The call was hosted by WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, WWE CFO George Barrios, and WWE Investor Relations Michael Weitz.

-Vince touted increases in live event attendance, TV viewership, and social media reach. He also touted some of their new product lines and the new UK television deal.

-Vince mentioned that they had left their negotiating window with NBCU and they were in the marketplace for the first time in long time.

-He hyped the WWE Network launch on Monday and said "most" of their traditional pay-per-view carriers have agreed to carry WrestleMania XXX with a month-to-month approach to events after that.

-George Barrios took over the call and read through the financial report. He announced an OBIDA loss for fourth quarter based primarily on spending for the WWE Network and film impairment charges, but that their year-end OIBDA results were within expected results.

-Barrios said that with the addition of Total Divas this year, WWE reaches 14.2 million viewers on average each week.

-Average attendance for the quarter were up four percent for the quarter and two percent for the year with a seven percent increase in ticket prices.

-Barrios touted Total Divas increasing viewership by over 150 percent from the programming it replaced on the E! Network.

-Barrios again repeated their belief that they can double or triple the 2012 $60 million OIBDA level by 2015. He listed their American and Indian television deals, as well as the WWE Network as how they would do that.

-Barrios said they expect expansion of the Network to the UK, Canada, Australia, and Nordic countries by the end of the year or early 2015.

-Barrios said to expect losses early in 2014 because of costs to launch the WWE Network and other investments. He said they expect a 2014 first quarter loss of $12 to $15 million.

-The call was turned over to questions. Barrios refused to answer a question about how many companies were interested in their TV shows but said they were optimistic about the negotiations since all of their properties are available at the same time.

-Barrios also refused to give an estimate about how many subscribers they expected to have by WrestleMania but repeated the "one million by the end of the year" line for expected total subscribers.

-A caller asked about the excitement level for WrestleMania XXX from fans and Vince said he felt like they were on track to have a big year.

-Vince simply said CM Punk was "on sabbatical" when asked for an update.

-A caller challenged why WWE was in the movie business. Vince said they understood characters and story lines and already had a set of stars to use. He talked about changing the models for the studio and when asked about how long they would take to decide if the studio was working, Barrios said they were seeing a better return under their new model and would continue to evaluate with each film.

-A caller asked about WrestleMania coverage and Barrios said they expected to be available in 85 percent of the US households. He refused to discuss who was and was not carrying the PPV.

source: prowrestling.net


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