WWE has released its financial results for the third quarter (Q3) of 2021, which covers July 1 through September 30. Their net income of $43.5 million exceeded analyst expectations, resulting in WWE increasing their projected overall profit for 2021. WWE attributes this over-performance to the return of live fans to their events, which began in mid-July.
Here is a summary statement from their press release about their Q3 performance. Keep in mind that Adjusted OIBDA is WWE’s preferred metric for profit.
“During the third quarter, we returned to live event touring with record average attendance, driving our better-than-expected performance,” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO. “Even with only one large-scale international event due to COVID-related circumstances, we will exceed our previous financial guidance given the overall strength in each of our business lines. We think our performance highlights the strength of our brand globally and supports our belief that we are well-positioned to maximize the value of our content and drive long-term shareholder value.”
Kristina Salen, WWE Chief Financial Officer, added “In the quarter, our better-than-expected revenue of $255.8 million and Adjusted OIBDA of $77.9 million reflected robust demand for our live events as we returned to touring and attracted average attendance above 2019 levels. Even with only one large-scale international event this year, we are raising our full-year 2021 Adjusted OIBDA guidance to a range of $305 million to $315 million.”
WWE’s previous range of expected profit for 2021 was in the range of $270 to $305 million, and Salen clarifies that their revised profit estimate is now in the range of $305 to $315 million.
In case you are curious, the repeated mention of “only one large-scale international event” this year is WWE’s way of saying the numbers will look even better when they can get back to doing two shows per year during their disgusting business relationship with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They only had one of those events in 2021 due to the COVID pandemic, and the massive revenue for that event (Crown Jewel) will show up in the numbers for Q4 2021.
Here are some of the numbers WWE touted about the positive impact of ticketed live events, emphasizing that average attendance in a quarter hasn’t been this high in over a decade. The Summer of Cena was very successful in getting fans to buy tickets.
“The Company staged weekly, ticketed live events as well as a live ticketed SummerSlam event for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak in the first quarter 2020. There were 42 total ticketed live events in the current quarter, consisting of 38 events in North America and 4 events in international markets. With the return to live event touring, average attendance in the Company’s North America events (including SummerSlam) surpassed 8,300, representing the highest quarterly average attendance in more than a decade.”
WWE also highlighted Raw and SmackDown’s increased ratings compared to one year ago in Q3 2020:
Finally, WWE discussed some of the ongoing and upcoming costs related to the construction of their new headquarters:
“Through the first nine months of 2021, WWE has incurred approximately $24 million in capital expenditures primarily related to the support of the Company’s technology infrastructure and the restart of the construction of its new headquarters. The Company continues to anticipate increased spending in the fourth quarter related to the construction of its new headquarters and to enhance WWE’s technology infrastructure. For the full year 2021, total capital expenditures are expected to be within a range of $60 million to $75 million. The revised range incorporates some potential for supply chain disruption and associated potential timing related changes in spending (and compares to the previous full-year guidance of $85 million to $105 million).”
Overall, business was booming for WWE in Q3 with the return of live fans, the Summer of Cena, and a stadium level SummerSlam event. The results were even more impressive than they anticipated.