The WWE posts $14.5 million loss in second quarter with slow growth for WWE Network


WWE CEO Vince McMahon. (Jessica Hill/AP)

The WWE revealed today that it lost $14.5 million in the second quarter of the year. That amount pales in comparison to the loss Vince McMahon and the company’s shareholders took in May when the WWE lost $350 million in one day.

Although the loss is smaller than expected — according to WrestleZone.com, the WWE expected to lose between $15 million and $18 million this second quarter — it still paints rather disappointing picture for the WWE Network, a monthly streaming service that allows fans to pay a flat fee to gain access to WWE programming, including both live and archived pay-per-views broadcasts.

When the network was first announced in January, the WWE touted it as one of the company’s “primary growth drivers” and projected the company’s earnings to rise as customers subscribed to the $9.99 per month service at a rate that would ultimately reach 2 million to 3 million subscribers in the United States alone, with 1 million to 2 million of those subscribers signed on by the end of 2014.

According to the WWE now, the Network has 700,000 subscribers, the vast majority of whom signed up before WrestleMania aired on April 6. This would seem to indicate very slow growth between the end of WrestleMania and the quarter’s end on June 30. According to the WWE, the Network added 33,000 subscribers in that time.

The company, however, remains confident in the Network and as a whole, as it develops its third-quarter plans to launch WWE Network globally in the coming weeks. The plan is to launch it first in Canada and then in October in the United Kingdom. The company also said it has plans to expand the Network into Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Japan, India, China, Thailand and Malaysia, although did not name an exact date.

“WWE’s core business metrics remain strong, and WWE Network continues to be the single greatest opportunity to transform WWE’s business model. During the quarter, we developed plans to make WWE Network available globally starting August 12, and completed a long-term content deal in Canada with Rogers Communications,” McMahon said in a press release (via Yahoo! Finance). “Additionally, we identified efficiencies that will improve our 2015 OIBDA [Operating Income Before Depreciation and Amortization] outlook by $30 million. Based on these initiatives, we are optimistic about our potential to drive long-term growth.”

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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