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WWE posts loss in revenue, claims TV ratings decline is due to talent injuries

Today (Apr. 25) WWE held its first quarter earnings call for investors. On the call for WWE were Vince McMahon, George Barrios, Michelle Wilson, and Paul Levesque.

A few of the big takeaways from the call and subsequent press release from WWE was the company reporting losses in revenues and net income. For Q1 2019 WWE posted revenues of $182.4 million as compared to $187.7 million from Q1 2018. While net income reflected a loss of $8.4 million compared to a net income of $14.8 million, in the first quarter of 2018.

On both the call and the release, WWE pointed to an uptick in wrestler injuries affecting both domestic TV ratings as well as the company’s overall bottom line.

Per WWE’s official First Quarter 2019 Results report

“First-Quarter Key Operating Metrics

During the fourth quarter 2018 earnings call, WWE management discussed the absence of several talent and their belief that these absences had a negative impact on the Company’s engagement metrics. Management believes that these absences continued to impact engagement in the first quarter 2019 as domestic TV ratings for Raw and SmackDown declined approximately 14% and 13%, respectively, and average attendance at the Company’s live events in North America declined 11%. WWE Network average paid subscribers increased 2% and digital video consumption increased 23%.”

Other notes from the call

  • McMahon said Ronda Rousey did an extraordinary job for the company and they always knew she was leaving after WrestleMania 35.
  • WWE plans to relaunch the WWE Network later this year.
  • Levesque says the WWE UK brand is one of the most watched weekly programs the WWE Network airs.
  • Fox will begin to promote SmackDown on Friday night during their NFL, NASCAR, and MLB broadcasts.
  • A big talking point was WWE’s ability to create their own stars over the past 35 years.

For the past four years WWE’s television ratings have declined, what do you think is the main cause for the slide?

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