WWE issued the following press release today. They actually issued two of them and the second one is about programming on WWE Network. I’ll include both below. My thoughts follow at the end.
WWE® Network Surpasses 1.3 Million Subscribers
Full Year Business Outlook Reaffirmed While Q1 2015 Currently Projected to Exceed Guidance
STAMFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–
WWE® (WWE) today announced that WWE Network surpassed 1.3 million subscribers following WrestleMania® 31, making it the most viewed WrestleMania in history. WrestleMania was broadcast around the world last night on WWE Network as well as on pay-per-view from a sold-out Levi’s® Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. The results represent a 97% increase from April 7, 2014 – the day after WrestleMania last year and a 31% increase since January 27, 2015, when the network surpassed the 1 million subscriber milestone. Recent growth was driven by the success of our February free promotion and the iconic attraction of the Company’s WrestleMania event.
“We believe that exceeding 1.3 million subscribers reflects the successful execution of our strategy and puts us on the path to transformative growth through WWE Network,” said WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon. “We remain focused on driving subscriber value by delivering the most compelling user experience and new content, evidenced by our new original series and partnerships with Seth Green, Jeff Tremaine and Jerry Springer.”
“We are pleased with our short-term results and, for the first quarter, we currently project to exceed our most recent public guidance associated with an estimated average of approximately 918,000 paid subscribers,” said George Barrios, WWE Chief Strategy & Financial Officer. “We are also confident in the long-term potential and understand subscriber growth could take many different paths. For example, Network subscribers might show consistent sequential quarterly gains or the quarterly adoption curve could exhibit seasonality with year-over-year growth. Regardless, over the long-term, we believe WWE Network has the potential to drive significant economic returns.”
Based on data to date, WWE Network attracted an average of approximately 918,000 paid subscribers over the first quarter 2015, representing a 27% increase from the fourth quarter 2014 average.1 The network’s February free promotion contributed to that growth, attracting approximately 201,000 trial subscribers, of which 154,000, or 77%, converted to paying subscribers in March. WWE Network reached an average of 982,000 total subscribers during the first quarter 2015, including both free trial and paid subscribers. To date, WWE Network has attracted nearly 1.8 million unique subscribers.
WWE Network: Growth Strategy
To grow WWE Network, the Company is executing a five-part strategy, including creating new content, implementing high impact customer acquisition and retention programs, introducing new features, expanding distribution platforms, and entering new geographies. Over the coming year, the Company is focused on expanding the network’s line-up of compelling original content as a critical element of this strategy.
Programming: In addition to the premium monthly live pay-per-view events, WWE Network unveiled new programming for the remainder of 2015, which includes eight brand new original series and partnerships with director Jeff Tremaine, Seth Green’s Stoopid Buddy Stoodios and legendary talk show host Jerry Springer. In addition, in the new show, Diva Search, WWE will span the globe in search of the most beautiful, athletic and charismatic women in the world to find the next stunning WWE Diva. WWE Network will also produce compelling specials and short form content, while continuing to add 1,000 hours to its robust video-on-demand library, which currently has more than 3,000 hours of content. (For more details of WWE Network’s programming line-up see the Company’s March 30, 2015 press release).
Promotions: Based on the successful execution of the network’s free trial offerings, all new subscribers who register for the network in April will receive the network free in that month, including Extreme Rules live on Sunday, April 26.
Features/Distribution: Other important elements of the Company’s network strategy include improving the user experience and content discovery across devices, while continuing to expand distribution platforms.
Geographies: The Company is developing plans for geographic expansion to India, China, Germany, Japan, Italy, Thailand and Malaysia.
Paths to Potential Subscriber Growth
The Company believes its strategy will facilitate long-term subscriber growth of WWE Network. There are, however, different paths that culminate in the realization of WWE Network’s subscriber potential. For example, achieving consistent subscriber growth over sequential quarters could result in a path that approximates an upward sloping straight line. (See Exhibit 1)
Alternatively, it is possible that WWE Network subscriber growth could follow the more seasonal pattern of the Company’s historic pay-per-view business. The latter path could yield an upward sloping trajectory over time, but could result in sequential quarterly declines while still delivering year-over-year growth. Any potential seasonal variations that might occur could be reduced over time as the Company continues to bring compelling new content to the network throughout the year. (See Exhibit 2)
The Company believes WWE Network will continue to make progress toward its subscriber potential, and management is agnostic to the pattern of growth.
The level of WWE Network subscribers is a critical determinant of the Company’s projected future financial performance.
In 2015, the Company expects year-over-year adjusted OIBDA growth in every quarter, with growth driven by the performance of WWE Network as well as the escalation of television rights fees, and continued innovation across all of the Company’s businesses. For the first quarter 2015, the Company currently projects its adjusted OIBDA will exceed the high end of its most recent public guidance associated with the quarter’s actual average of 918,000 paid subscribers.2 The most recent public guidance implied a range of adjusted OIBDA of approximately $3 million to $8 million associated with that average.
The table below outlines ranges of potential Company performance for the full year 2015 at different subscriber levels. The Company is maintaining its 2015 Business Outlook at various subscriber levels as released on February 12, 2015. The 2015 Adjusted OIBDA table (below) is consistent with the previously provided business outlook. (The Company’s previous business outlook as well as reconciliations of Operating Income to Adjusted OIBDA can be found in the Company’s Q4 2014 Earnings Release – February 12, 2015).
1 Average paid subscribers are calculated based on the arithmetic daily mean over the relevant period, and may differ substantially from paid subscribers at the end of any period due to the timing of paid subscriber additions. Trial subscribers acquired during a promotional period are not counted as paying subscribers until they convert after the end of the free period.
2 These projections are preliminary and are subject to change based on the completion of the Company’s quarter-end financial reporting process.
Total Company – Adjusted OIBDA (in millions)
500 ($10) – $10
1,000 $45 – $65
1,500 $100 – $120
2,000 $155 – $175
2,500 $210 – $230
(3) Average paid subscribers shown in thousands. The average number of paid subscribers over the 12-months of 2014 was approximately 567,000. This 12-month average is below the average for the 2014 period in which WWE Network was operative (WWE Network was launched on February 24, 2014).
(4) The average paid subscribers the Company will achieve over the full year 2015 is unknown. The range of average subscribers over the full year 2015 has been provided for illustrative purposes rather than as guidance, and has not been updated or changed since it was initially presented (July 31, 2014)
Here’s the other press release this time covering content on WWE Network:
WWE Network Partners with Seth Green, Jerry Springer and Jeff Tremaine on Three New Original Series .
STAMFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–
In addition to the premium monthly live pay-per-view events, WWE Network unveiled new programming for the remainder of 2015, which includes eight brand new original series and partnerships with director Jeff Tremaine, Seth Green’s Stoopid Buddy Stoodios and legendary talk show host Jerry Springer.
NEW ORIGINAL SERIES:
CAMP WWE – COMING LATE 2015
WWE, in partnership with Seth Green’s Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, will debut a new, animated short-form comedy series entitled Camp WWE. Imagine WWE Superstars and Divas when they were kids at their favorite summer camp…which happens to be run by none other than Mr. McMahon – add in shock-value, slapstick humor and social satire – and you have WWE’s first adult comedy, which will debut later this year.
“We’re insanely excited about this collaboration,” said Green. “WWE is one of the most heartfelt and professional organizations I’ve worked with. We’re beyond happy to help them realize this vision.”
SWERVED – COMING IN MAY
WWE teams up with the Director of Jackass and Bad Grandpa, Jeff Tremaine, to give you the hilarious original series, Swerved. Swerved is a half hour series and will premiere in May.
“I’m excited to combine my brand of entertainment with the world of WWE,” said Tremaine. “It will be the ultimate mash-up.”
DIVA SEARCH – COMING THIS FALL
WWE spans the globe in search of the most beautiful, athletic and charismatic women to find the next stunning WWE Diva. This competition will give viewers the opportunity to witness the challenges, trials, drama and rewards that accompany the journey of these women, as they vie for superstardom. Coming this Fall.
JERRY SPRINGER PRESENTS WWE TOO HOT FOR TV – COMING IN APRIL
Hosted by legendary talk show host Jerry Springer, this series will re-introduce the WWE Universe to the most outrageous stunts and cringe-inducing moments in TV history. The series will be chock full of insane situations and racy romps from WWE’s past that will have members of the WWE Universe asking, “Did they really do this?!” Springer will inject his own brand of humor into each episode with themes such as “Love Hurts,” “All in the Family” and “Weddings and Funerals.”
The half-hour series will be available beginning in April in WWE Network’s video-on-demand library with new episodes weekly.
“I suspect 25 years of The Jerry Springer Show qualifies me to comment on outrageous behavior,” said Springer. “And what is more outrageous than the entertainment, drama and craziness of the WWE. This is going to be fun.”
LIVE! WITH CHRIS JERICHO – DEBUTS MONDAY, APRIL 6 WITH SPECIAL GUEST JOHN CENA
Podcast host Chris Jericho challenges his guests in provocative, candid conversations about their careers, their lives, past controversies and the overall state of WWE. The monthly series kicks off Monday, April 6 immediately following Raw, with its first one-hour episode featuring WWE Superstar John Cena.
“I’m stoked to bring my show to WWE Network and give Jerichoholics worldwide more of what they’ve come to expect – humor, questions that have never been asked before and the best conversations that any podcast host has ever delivered,” said Jericho. “No matter who the guest is, whether it be WWE Superstars, Divas, Legends, executives or icons from the entertainment world, I guarantee to deliver the best, most entertaining interview you have ever heard from each and every one of them.”
UNFILTERED: WITH RENEE YOUNG – DEBUTS IN MAY
WWE announcer Renee Young interviews WWE Superstars and other pop-culture celebrities, covering just about everything, except what they are famous for. In this short-form series, Renee’s guests include Grammy Award winner Wiz Khalifa, five-time Grammy nominee Skylar Grey and WWE Superstars Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. Unfiltered will debut in May.
CULTURE SHOCK: WITH COREY GRAVES – PREMIERING IN JUNE
WWE commentator Corey Graves reveals a variety of unique venues, customs, music, food and people as WWE’s tour travels around the world. From Marvel comic headquarters to a tattoo shop on the lower east side of Manhattan, Graves examines the local culture with his unique perspective and style. This short-form series will premiere in June.
WWE THE LIST – COMING IN JUNE
WWE The List is the best, the worst, the most bizarre and interesting of everything and anything WWE. If it’s amazing, outrageous, sexy or just plain fun, it just made #TheList.
In addition to the eight new original series, WWE Network will also debut new episodes of the highly-acclaimed docu-series WWE 24 as well as WWE Countdown and Rivalries. WWE will also add more children’s programming by bringing back the popular 1980s animated series, Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘N’ Wrestling. In addition, WWE Network will produce compelling specials and short form content, while continuing to add 1,000 hours to its robust video-on-demand library, which currently has more than 3,000 hours of content.
The acclaimed 30-minute docu-series takes you on a lightning-fast journey through a day in the life of WWE’s most intriguing Superstars and groundbreaking events.
WWE Countdown settles the great debates across WWE history. Who was the most dangerous Diva? Who had the best catchphrase? This one-hour series allows the WWE Universe to determine the top 10 in each category and have the final word on who tops each list.
This docu-style series takes a look at the greatest rivalries in WWE history, as never told before. Get the real stories behind WWE’s most exciting matches and entertaining feuds through the eyes of the Superstars who created them. Each one-hour episode leaves no story untold.
HULK HOGAN’S ROCK ’N’ WRESTLING
Harkening back to 1985, this Saturday morning cartoon, which originally aired on CBS, features Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Junkyard Dog, Captain Lou Albano, and Roddy Piper in a series that is both nostalgic and entertaining, 30 years later.
FLOYD MAYWEATHER VS. THE BIG SHOW: THE BIGGEST VS. THE BEST – PREMIERES MONDAY, APRIL 27
WWE Network will look back at this epic David vs. Goliath encounter at WrestleMania 24 (2008) and its shocking conclusion coming just in time for Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, which is expected to be one of the biggest boxing matches in history.
NXT TAKEOVER – LIVE! – AIRS MONTHLY ON WEDNESDAYS
The future is here. WWE’s hottest up-and-coming Superstars compete to prove they’ve got what it takes. More than just evolution, it’s a revolution! Witness these WWE Superstars of tomorrow as they take over WWE Network with live two-hour specials.
TJR Thoughts: What does it all mean? Well, the number is very good. They’re growing. Making the Network available nearly worldwide has been huge for them and when the number keeps growing that’s something to get excited about.
Monthly NXT specials! Yes! That’s fantastic. I’m not really worried about it hurting the product. There’s so much talent there and they do an excellent job of telling stories.
The fact that they’re adding shows to WWE Network is a great sign because that’s another sign of growth. They needed more original content on there, so adding to it means they are putting some money back into the Network to help it grow. Will all the shows be great? Probably not. At least they’re trying.
There’s a free month in April. They did that in November and February too. It shows that when they did it before it worked to entice viewers to stick around. Those of us that are paying wish we could have a free month, but it’s not like we’re paying a lot.
On a personal note, I love WWE Network. In Canada we get it as a TV channel and online. There’s no problem because it’s a channel. That’s something they need in the US to allow it to grow, but it might take some time to get there. Being able to watch it on TV is huge.