Last year at this time, WWE was dealing with lower than expected subscriber numbers for their brand new over-the-top streaming Network and finding themselves in the position of having to explain how they would make up for lost pay-per-view (PPV) revenue under the new model.
What a difference a year makes.
In the company's just released first quarter 2015 financials, WWE is touting 1.3 million subscribers to the Network as of March 31st. That's nearly double the 670,000 announced after last year's WrestleMania and represents a 104% growth in Network revenues from the prior year quarter. It is also a 33% increase in subscribers since January 27th of this year, a growth the report attribute to both the free February promotion and this year's 'Mania.
On the subject of WrestleMania 31/Play Button, these subscriber numbers - combined with 259,000 traditional PPV buys - make it the most viewed WM in history.
Some specifics on the Network numbers:
- 196,000 of the 1,327,000 subscribers are international as WWE expands in existing markets like Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland while expanding into new ones like North Africa and the Middle East.
- Throughout the quarter (January - March 2015), the service averaged 927,000 subscribers, a 29% increase over the fourth quarter 2014.
- 94% of subscribers access the Network at least once a month, and all subscribers watched an estimated 53 hours of content per household over the three months at the start of this year. The report claims that that places WWEN among Netflix and top television networks for viewer hours per household.
'Mania and WWE Network lead to increased revenues of $176.2 million - the highest quarterly number in company history. The figure represents a 40% increase and was made up of 38% growth in North America and a 50% surge from international markets.
Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon was obviously pleased, and is quoted in the report thusly:
During the quarter, we generated record quarterly revenue and strong earnings growth, reflecting our strategy to realize greater value from our content across multiple platforms. We believe that we are on a path to significant growth as we continue to expand WWE Network and innovate faster than ever.
More on the numbers and plans revealed by WWE's quarterly reporting throughout the day, Cagesiders.
Thoughts on their record setting start to 2015?