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WWE Reports Historic $960.4M in Revenue, WWE Network Subscriber Count and More

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2020

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 16: Vince McMahon attends a press conference to announce that WWE Wrestlemania 29 will be held at MetLife Stadium in 2013 at MetLife Stadium on February 16, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images)
Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images

WWE reported a record-setting $960.4 million in revenue for 2019 as part of its 2019 fourth-quarter and overall earnings outlook released Thursday.

In addition to yearly earnings increasing 3 percent from 2018 to 2019, the fourth-quarter earnings of $322.8 million represented an 18 percent increase compared to the fourth quarter of 2018.

WWE Chairman Vince McMahon said the following regarding the results:

"During the fourth quarter, we expanded the reach of WWE's live programming and further engaged with diverse audiences across platforms and formats. We believe the value of live sports will continue to increase, particularly in today's evolving media landscape, and we are well positioned to take advantage of this trend to maximize the value of our content."

WWE interim Chief Financial Officer Frank Riddick also commented on the fact that the revenue was actually lower than expected despite the fact that it set a new benchmark for the company:

"For the year, we achieved record revenue and Adjusted OIBDA. However, with the delay in completing a Middle East distribution agreement as well as lower business performance than anticipated, our results were at the low-end of guidance. As we work to strengthen engagement in 2020, we are pursuing several strategic initiatives that could increase the monetization of our content, including the distribution of content in the Middle East and India as well as strategic alternatives for our direct-to-consumer service, WWE Network."

Riddick didn't expand upon what "strategic alternatives" to the WWE Network means, but it could simply be a case of supplementing the service rather than looking to scrap it altogether.

WWE reported a decline in WWE Network revenue, and the number of paid subscribers (1.389 million) at the end of 2019 was down 9 percent from 2018, while the number of total subscribers (1.459 million) was down 6.6 percent.

There was a great deal of interest among WWE stockholders in Thursday's earnings report after stock prices plummeted last week in the wake of co-presidents George Barrios and Michelle Wilson getting ousted from the company.

WWE's stock experienced a 27 percent dip, and it is unclear what type of impact the earnings report may have on the stock moving forward.

The company's overall net income of $77.1 million in 2019 was down from $99.6 million in 2018, but the fourth quarter of 2019 yielded a net income of $69.3 million, up from $41.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2018.

While WWE reported a drop in live event ticket sales and consumer products, the continuation of WWE's agreement to hold shows in Saudi Arabia, plus the $1 billion deal with Fox to air SmackDown should ensure steady revenue moving forward.

After posting a record adjusted OIBDA of $180 million in 2019, Riddick noted that the number is expected to reach somewhere in the range of $250 million to $300 million in 2020.  

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