The Cost Of Producing Raw and SmackDown, WWEShop Profit & Licensing Revenues Revealed
Reddit user fiduciary_booty has done some amazing fact pulling from the recently released report into the 2016 WWE financial results. If you're into stats, figures and profit margins then read on!
WWE publicly released its 2016 financial results in the last week or so. Much of the data reported is stuff that people here argue about all the time, even though the information is accessible. After reading some of Meltzer's analysis in this week's newsletter I was inspired to pull up the annual report and compile some of the data that comes up here a lot, or is subject to speculation. [Plug to subscribe to Meltzer if you have the means, but everything here I've confirmed myself, in one case disagreeing with his analysis.] The annual report, and the source for all of this, is here - Page 27 is a key page.
Now, on to the numbers, which are often rounded up to the nearest million or so.
In 2016 WWE earned its most revenue ever, however, after costs, taxes, etc, profits are only $33.8 million. The rest of this post breaks down some of the costs and profits per segment (I did not even look at the non GAAP measures, for you accountants):
Television and network:
* Prior to the development of the network, PPV revenues were $82.5 million. Now, PPV and network revenues together are about $180 million. The network cost $123 million last year.
* Increase in the subscriber base in 2016 was 15%. At about 1.4 million subscribers the base is well below initial estimates of 3-4 million subscribers by now.
* The costs of producing all television shows are $120 million, which is actually a decrease of $9 million from 2015. WWE reports that it cost $28 million to produce non-live shows like Total Divas/Bellas and Holy Foley. (Also notable is that they plan to reduce this cost to $10-25 million for non-live programs in 2017. As I note below, at the same time they are planning to increase spending on films.)
* What this implies is that with 104 episodes of Raw and Smackdown, the average cost to produce each episode is $885K. This is where I disagree with Dave, who I think did not notice the $28 million disclosure. He states that it cost $1.1 million per episode. This does not include compensation.
* Television revenue worldwide was $241 million, which includes $14m contractual increases this year for the USA shows. This is 33% of WWE's total net revenues. Television profits were about $120 million.
Live events (this is sales of tickets and packages at shows)
* With 280 events in North American at an average attendance of 5800, paying an average ticket price of $58.19, average live event gate is $337,502 (excludes NXT). International a little higher, closer to half a million.
* Live event profit overall is $45 million
* While they don't do this, if you offset the average cost of an episode of Raw/Smackdown with average ticket sales, you get about $547,113 outlay for WWE to produce an episode of the show. That's pretty good for 2 or 3 hours of high-rated programming, but admittedly does not include other costs of WWE like corporate costs and salaries.
* Cribbing from Meltzer's analysis, NXT events generated almost $7 million in revenue. Those are not actually offset from the cost of the performance center, which included in a larger category called business support, which cost $20.4 million. That means that the PC costs $20.4 million or less, which may include NXT salaries -- it's not made clear. This category is increased $2.5 million from 2015. (Let's wildly speculate and say $1 million for Nakamura, $1 million for Samoa Joe and $500,000 for the Drifter.)
Digital media, which is advertising on youtube and facebook, and sales of mobile content:
* Revenues of $27 million last year, including an almost $5 million increase in revenue from YouTube advertising. Profit is $17.5 million.
Licensing revenues (video games and toys):
* $49 million. Profit: $35.6 million
WWEshop: (I find this interesting because I think they could make more money with better designs, but they were admittedly up $7.5 million this year in revenues)
* 771,500 orders (includes other online retailers)
* $34.6 million in revenue, only $9.8m in profit
* $10 million net revenue, $4.3 million in profit. The company will increase spending on movies this year, from $6.6 million to between $10-$35 million.
Superstars under exclusive contract:
Finally, is this stuff accurate? Yes. I can go into it more, but if you are a public company in the US, there are huge penalties to kayfabing this stuff.
WWE, Inc. annual report 2016