Estimates and topics ahead of WWE Q2 earnings: ongoing TV rights negotiations, strong TV ratings & ticket sales

WWE reports second-quarter earnings tomorrow morning with a conference call at 8:30 am ET before the market opens.

WWE guided adjusted OIBDA (the company’s preferred non-GAAP measure) for this quarter would be between $125 million and $135 million, so I’ve managed to come up with a number right between that range.

Download a PDF of my WWE financial estimate model here, looking out into 2025.

Predictions/estimates for Q2 2023 (Apr 1 to Jun 30, 2023):

Revenue: $378M

Adjusted OIBDA: $130M

Operating income: $106M

Net income: $73.5M

Earnings per share ratio (diluted): $0.83

I predict average North American attendance of 9,580, including Wrestlemania, which would be up from 6,800 in the same quarter last year (which also included Wrestlemania). Excluding Wrestlemania, I predict 7,940 for the average, up from 4,900 last year. These predictions are based on subtracting 10%, to account for the normal discrepancy (probably driven by comps), from tickets distributed estimates from WrestleTix.

Possible topics and questions for tomorrow’s call

  • WWE’s ongoing TV rights negotiations in the U.S. for Raw and Smackdown are surely the first priority. In the last two rounds, in 2014 and 2018, a deal was already announced by this point in the cycle. The exclusive negotiating windows with incumbents NBCU and Fox have ended. 
  • Supposedly Fox doesn’t want to pay more for Smackdown. Is there a way to have Fox and a streaming partner like Amazon’s Prime Video share rights over the course of the next deal? It seems likely traditional TV’s reach will fall below 50% of the country in the next five years. Does it make sense for Smackdown and/or Raw to have some kind of live presence or simulcast on a streaming platform to offset continued losses in reach of traditional networks?
  • CW just won Nascar Xfinity rights. Last month CW announced a deal to air college football and basketball games from the ACC. The network also holds rights to LIV Golf. Is CW a real player for additional rights like WWE’s? In a prior era, Smackdown aired on CW and its predecessor, UPN. Raw seems more likely to stay with NBCU, but could The CW bid on Smackdown rights?
  • WWE has plenty to brag about when it comes to TV ratings and ticket sales. Smackdown has been performing especially strongly but Raw and NXT are also up strongly with viewers in ad demos. WrestleTix figures indicate attendances for all event types are up by as much as 40% or 50% from last year.
  • The merger with UFC. Are there any hints about how the regulatory process is going? WWE previously stated the merger is expected to be completed later this year. Is the timeline becoming clearer?
  • The WGA and SAG-AFTRA are on strike. The WGA was already on strike at the time of the previous earnings call. Nick Khan expressed support for the guild while making clear the strike doesn’t impact WWE. Because the strikes are top-of-mind for many TMT analysts on the Q&A, and the actors are now also striking, I expect the subject to come up. I don’t see any major impact for WWE. Does the actors’ strike affect WWE’s access to celebrities? Maybe executives will again message support for the unions while making clear WWE has popular content that doesn’t rely on unions, as none of the company’s talent or staff are unionized.
  • WWE recently moved employees over to its new, much bigger headquarters. Yet the merger with UFC will certainly mean many layoffs of current staff. Won’t the company have a lot more office space than it needs? Is there something WWE is planning to do to address that?
  • Maybe there will be further hints of future major international PLEs. Australia seems the likeliest candidate.

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Brandon Thurston

Brandon Thurston has written about wrestling business since 2015. He’s also worked as an independent wrestler and trainer.

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