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WWE Shares Plunge On Disappointment Over NBCU Deal And Online Concerns

By | Friday May 16, 2014 @ 8:20am PDT

wwe-logo-2__120803160908Talk about a smack down: WWE shares tumbled about 44% this morning after the company disclosed disappointing terms for its new TV agreement — and laid out the potential risk of continuing losses as its new $9.99-a-month WWE Network online video service cannibalizes its pay-per-view business. The entertainment company says the value of its U.S., UK and Thailand TV agreements now comes to about $200M a year. That suggests a 50% increase in the licensing deal with NBCU unveiled yesterday to renew Monday Night Raw on USA Network and Friday Night SmackDown on Syfy says Benchmark Co analyst Mike Hickey — which is “meaningfully below the guided multiple of 2X to 3X.”

Related: NBCU & WWE Re-Up Multi-Year Partnership

Meanwhile, WWE didn’t update subscription numbers for the online service as it discussed its potential financial performance. That follows last month’s report showing lower-than-expected 667,287 subs — not including “potential failures to comply with subscription terms.” Hickey fears that the “limited visibility to where subscribers are currently tracking or where churn will ultimately settle” leaves investors with “an uncomfortable silence that will likely extend until early August.” Read More »

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WWE Shares Fall Following Disappointing Sub Announcement For WWE Network

By | Monday April 7, 2014 @ 8:18am PDT

The stock price is down more than 20% in early trading after the company said that its new online video channel has 667,287 subs — not including “potential failures to comply with subscription terms.” WWE Network logoStill, WWE Network is “well on its way to reaching its goal” of 1M subs by year end, the company says. Many investors expected better news after yesterday’s WrestleMania 30, which was offered both on cable and satellite pay-per-view and to subscribers who pay $9.99 a month for the streaming service. Benchmark Co analyst Mike Hickey warned on Friday that the subscription number might come in today between 500,000 and 800,000 — down from his original expectation for as much as 1M after the WrestleMania event. WWE’s stock price is still up about 40% since the beginning of 2014, but began to slip in late March, he noted, because “street expectations [for WWE Network subs] had exaggerated.” Although the network should reach the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Nordic countries by early 2015, the plans “would not immediately benefit from a massive entertainment event like WrestleMania in driving fan demand.”

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UPDATE: WWE Network Back On Track After Opening-Day Technical Problems

By | Monday February 24, 2014 @ 11:35am PST

WWE Network

UPDATE, 1:01 PM: People who want to subscribe to WWE Network should be able to do so now that the company’s technology partner, Major League Baseball Advanced Media, has worked through the launch-day crush. Demand for subscriptions “exceeded anything we have seen in 14 years of doing e-commerce,” MLBAM says.

Related: Q&A: MLB Advanced Media CEO Bob Bowman On WWE Network, More

PREVIOUS, 11:35 AM: The new $9.99-a-month online video network has been “unable to process most orders since 9 AM,” the WWE says. It attributes the launch-day woes to its technology partner Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM). It was “overwhelmed” by the demand for subscriptions and “has been working aggressively to resolve this issue.” WWE shares are down about 1.7% on a day when the overall market is up about 1%. It has a lot riding on the initiative. The company unveiled its online plans at the International CES electronics show in January. Expectations that the global Internet channel will be a hit with fans helped to drive a 46% increase in WWE’s market value so far in 2014, and recently hit record highs. CFO George Barrios told analysts last week that the network could attract as many as 3M subscribers and become a “major source of Read More »

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Q&A: MLB Advanced Media CEO Bob Bowman On WWE Network, Sony’s Virtual Pay TV Plans, And What’s Next For Streaming Video

The new year has barely started, yet I already have a candidate for the eventual list of 2014′s most influential media execs: MLB Advanced Media CEO Bob Bowman. Bob Bowman 2 His sports-focused streaming video and Internet operation is poised to become an entertainment power following the announcements at International CES this month that it will drive two potentially ground-breaking new services. On February 24, WWE will launch a subscription-based online video channel, WWE Network, that will include live and on-demand library programming. (Bowman sat on the WWE board from 2003-2008.) And Sony turned heads with its plan to introduce a Web-based pay TV service that will include live programming from channels that are only available now to subscribers of traditional cable, satellite, and telco video services. MLBAM’s state-of-the-art infrastructure already handles live and on-demand streaming for college basketball’s March Madness, CBS Sports, and ESPN3, as well as Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze TV and in 2012 handled Obama for America campaign videos. As its business grows, financial types wonder mlbam_logowhether baseball execs might take MLBAM public. So it’s a heady time for Bowman, who became Michigan’s state treasurer in 1983 at age 27 and went on to become COO of ITT Corp. Deadline checked in with the MLBAM chief to find out more about his plans with WWE and Sony, and the prospects for streaming video. Here are his thoughts, edited for length and clarity.

DEADLINE: Why do you consider the WWE Network so noteworthy?
BOWMAN: Economically it’s one of our largest clients for sure. In that sense it’s incredibly important. But what’s more important than dollars is this is the most vertically integrated brand in America.WWE Network Vince McMahon controls everything soup to nuts — from the idea in his head to how it appears on every screen around the world. And he just demonstrated [at CES] he’s going to try and change what the economic rules are. He’s in an ideal situation to do that. That’s why a lot of the content players are going to watch this very carefully. Read More »

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WWE Sets February 24 Launch Date For Online Network

By | Thursday January 9, 2014 @ 8:19am PST

The company’s been talking for years about creating a network, but failed to excite cable and satellite distributors. WWE NetworkSo it now says it will make its WWE Network happen online as a subscription service that will cost $9.99 a month with a six-month commitment. Powered by MLB Advanced Media, the WWE programming will be available on conventional computers, and apps for Apple and Android devices, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and 4, and Roku — with Xbox One and some Smart TVs following this summer. Customers will be able to watch 12 monthly pay-per-view specials, 1,500 hours of shows from WWE’s library, and several new programs. The network “allows us to transform and reimagine how we deliver our premium live content and 24/7 programming directly to our fans around the world,” CEO Vince McMahon says. “WWE Network will provide transformative growth for our company and unprecedented value for our fans.” The company anticipates as many as 3M subscribers  ”based on extensive consumer research and the value proposition for a network that reflects the inclusion of our pay-per-view events, including WrestleMania” and other programming. The company says that about 53% of TV households “have an affinity for WWE content.” If it’s estimate is correct, then it could help WWE generate as much as $350M in additional revenue and “incremental OIBDA [cash flow] between $50 million and $150 million at a ‘steady state.’” Benchmark analyst Mike Hickey is more cautious, saying that by charging $9.99 a month for PPV specials that cost $44.95 “will cut into WWE’s revenue in the short term” although the company could “make it up over time as the network’s subscriber base increases.” WWE shares have appreciated nearly 52% over the last three months, and are up about 1% today. Read More »

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