WWE has released its financial results for the fourth quarter (Q4) and full year of 2021.
Here is a snippet from their earnings press release, where WWE boasts about generating more than one billion dollars in revenue during the year:
“In 2021, we reached a significant milestone of over $1 billion in revenue, for the first time in the Company’s history. We ended the year with strong performance across each of our business lines that reflected the engagement of a wider audience with distribution on new digital platforms, including Peacock, and the return of fans at our live events,” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO. “We expect the execution of key initiatives in the coming year, such as the licensing of network content in international markets, monetization of new original series, and the continued shift to a stadium strategy for WWE’s premium live events, will further expand the reach of our brands and enhance the value of our content.”
Frank Riddick, WWE Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, added “For the year, we achieved record revenue and Adjusted OIBDA, which exceeded the high end of our guidance. Adjusted OIBDA increased 14% reflecting higher revenue and profit from the distribution of network programming on Peacock, the contractual escalation of rights fees for our flagship shows, Raw and SmackDown, and the return of ticketed audiences to our live events. In 2022, we anticipate Adjusted OIBDA of $360 million to $375 million, reflecting the full year performance of our ticketed live events as well as the increased production and monetization of content.”
The following graphs shows that WWE’s total net revenue, total operating income, and total adjusted OIBDA (WWE’s preferred metric for profit) are all way up from the Q4 2020 and full year 2020, respectively.
This chart serves as a strong reminder that WWE’s “Media” segment is huge driver of their total revenue, accounting for roughly 85.5% of the $1.095 billion in 2021. This largely consists of the televisions rights fees for Raw and SmackDown, as well as the Peacock money and other revenue associated with the WWE Network streaming service.
The “Live Events” operating income of $1.4 million for Q4 2021 shows that the return of live fans pales in comparison to the Media segment in terms of its impact on WWE’s business.
The following graphic shows the breakdown of the “Media” segment revenue in Q4 2021 and the full year.
Note that the $52.1 million listed in the “Other” column for Q4 2021 is the Saudi Arabia money associated with Crown Jewel 2021. This is one major difference in their revenue generated in Q4 2021 compared to Q4 2020 (which didn’t include a Saudi event).
If you are curious to see WWE’s charts and graphs for the current trends in their business and television ratings, social media consumption, and more, you can check out their Key Performance Indicators and Trending Schedules.
Here’s one of those graphs that stands out to me, where WWE claims that a significant drop in ad-supported video on-demand (AVOD) views for Q4 2021 is attributable to the lack of a December
pay-per-view premium live event, as well as full matches being pulled from social media.
Naturally, WWE is very optimistic about their business outlook for 2022 and is expecting to achieve record profits:
“The Company outlines its expectations for 2022, which assume ticketed audiences at the Company’s live events for the full year, and target record revenue and an Adjusted OIBDA range of $360 - $375 million, which would be an all-time record. This range of anticipated performance reflects the continued ramp-up of live events, including large-scale international events, and increased monetization of content, partially offset by increased production, content-related, and other expenses.
Management believes WWE is well positioned to capitalize on significant future opportunities. In 2022, key initiatives that could have meaningful implications for long-term growth include the licensing of WWE Network in international markets, monetization of new original series, the licensing of Raw second window rights, further progress with sponsorship sales, and the continued execution of WWE’s stadium strategy for premium live events.”
One of the earlier charts shows that WWE’s total adjusted OIBDA for 2021 was $327.1 million, so their projected range of about $360 to $375 million in this metric for 2022 gives you an idea of just how much of a profit increase they expect to realize.
Here is a graphic from Wrestlenomics’ Brandon Thurston showing just how incredibly profitable WWE has been in recent years:
Net income: The most final measure of profitability.— Brandon Thurston (@BrandonThurston) February 3, 2022
2021 is easily WWE's most profitable year ever. Even when adjusting for inflation, 2021 was nearly twice as profitable as the best "Attitude Era" years of 1999 and 2000. pic.twitter.com/gtUXGOqoP1
The bottom line is that WWE is rolling in the money at record high levels, just as they have all throughout the global pandemic. Perhaps they will be in a generous mood this year and only cut 70 non-Ali wrestlers instead of matching last year’s mark of 80+ releases.
What do you think about WWE’s financial results for Q4 and the full year of 2021, Cagesiders?