WWE Network SVOD Service Adds First Subs in Six Quarters

WWE Network’s steady decline in subscription streaming VOD subscribers came to a halt in the third quarter (ended Sept. 30). The professional wrestling service’s average paid subs topped 1.6 million, an increase of 6%, marking the first quarterly increase since the first quarter of 2019.

The streaming service helped the WWE brand’s media segment sustain revenue as live event sales crumbled 97% to just $700,000 from cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic. By comparison, the third quarter of 2019 had 67 events in North America and seven events in international markets, generating more than $22 million in revenue.

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Media revenue topped $201 million, an increase of 38%, or $54.9 million, primarily driven by the growth of domestic core content rights fees for the WWE’s flagship programs “Raw” and “SmackDown,” and to a lesser extent, the growth in WWE Network subscription revenue as well as increased sales of advertising and sponsorship across platforms.

Distribution includes videos viewed on third-party (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitch, etc.) and WWE platforms (WWE.com and WWE App, including the ad-supported free version of WWE Network).

“Our third-quarter financial performance was strong and reflected our ongoing creativity in a challenging environment,” CEO Vince McMahon said in a statement. “We continue to adapt our business … focusing on increasing [virtual] audience interaction and engagement to support the value of our content globally.”

Indeed, total revenue topped $221 million, up nearly 19% from $186 million in the previous-year period. Net income topped $48.2 million, from $5.8 million a year ago, as operating expenses dropped almost 20% to $108 million, from $133.8 million.

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