WWE reported first-quarter revenue of $263.5 million, down 9% from the year-ago quarter but ahead of Wall Street estimates as the company starts to wriggle out of Covid-19’s headlock.
Earnings per share also more than doubled the consensus expectation from analysts, reaching 51 cents compared with 31 cents a year ago.
The company’s signature live events have been all but eliminated during the pandemic, but they are slowly returning to the schedule as virus trends improve. A major influx of revenue also came in during the quarter as the stand-alone WWE Network was absorbed into NBCUniversal streaming service, Peacock.
The March 18 launch of WWE Network programming on Peacock was followed by the shift of NXT to Tuesday nights this month on longtime network partner USA.
Wrestlemania 37, the annual pay-per-view extravaganza held this month at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, was the most-viewed live event in the history of Peacock, WWE said. While they didn’t offer any specific numbers, the No. 1 ranking is noteworthy given that the year-old streaming outlet carries Premier League soccer as well as a range of other sports in the U.S.
Company founder and CEO Vince McMahon said his company’s emergence from the dark days of Covid — which doomed his effort to revive the XFL on top of the steep losses for the WWE — has been gradual. “At first we were in survival mode, but then we found a way,” he said during a conference call with analysts.
Nick Khan, the former co-head of television at CAA who joined the WWE several months ago as president and chief revenue officer, said trends in sports media are helpful for the company. The NFL’s long-term rights deal with Amazon, for example, points to streaming as a lucrative trend. Khan said the WWE is shopping the same package that migrated to Peacock to international streaming outlets.
Executives at WWE are hosting a conference call with Wall Street analysts. Check back for updates.
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