During WWE’s Quarter 2 earnings conference call Vince McMahon spoke on an interesting new direction he sees the company going in.
The transcript of the conference call was provided by Yahoo Finance.
Bischoff And Heyman’s Effect On WWE Shows
Vince spoke on the hiring of Eric Bischoff and Paul Heyman as the executive directors for the Raw and Smackdown Live shows.
One [of] the things that we’ve done is hire 2 Executive Directors, 1 for Raw and 1 for SmackDown. And in doing so, it allows me to look at a longer-range story arc standpoint and also spend more time on talent development and not get into the weeds as much as I had to do in the past. That is a really, really good thing for a long-term as well as short-term, actually, we’ve seen a big result already.
Why Now For Bischoff And Heyman
Later in the conference call Vince fields a question about why now is the right time to appoint Bischoff and Heyman as executive directors for the shows.
The why now question is a logical one. I can’t personally be in the weeds any longer, and we have these 2 individuals who have a longer-range point of view and a developmental point of view. Both of these individuals have “extensive backgrounds” in the business from various aspects. And with the organizational aspects that they have and the depth of talent, executive talent, writing talent which they now will all attract is really going to be really good for our business. And to answer how much latitude they will have, that’s — again, it allows me to have a broader overview of things and an escape from just getting in the weeds. So they’ll have a lot of latitude.
Vince speaking more on the new direction of WWE with Bischoff and Heyman.
As far as the content is concerned, I’ll address that. We have definitely turned the corner. And again, as I’ve mentioned, we have executive directors with each brand now. They’re going to go into more depth, I think, that notwithstanding that, we’re going to spend more time on our storylines, good ones, and also talent development. It’s a combination of a lot of things, all the things thus far coming together and what I guess I’d call a relaunch in terms of our content.
New WWE Network Model And Features
George A. Barrios, WWE Co-President & Director, spoke on an update to the WWE Network and a new tiered pay model along with other new features.
As we look ahead, our primary focus for WWE Network is its continued evolution. Late last night, we initiated the transition of WWE Network to a new platform created and delivered in partnership with Endeavor Streaming and Massive Interactive. This new platform provides subscribers with a better user experience, more intuitive user interface and much better discovery and search. More importantly, this new platform enabled the introduction of new features that we’ve discussed previously, and experiences, over time, including the addition of a free tier, a premium tier and the localization of the network into multiple languages. So we remain very excited about the long-term opportunity of WWE Network.
When New Features And Tiered Model Will Began
Barrios takes a question on when he foresees getting the tiered pricing and other new features to start being incorporated into the WWE Network.
Yes, I think the cadence will be the free-tier first, which we’re really excited about; the paid tier, premium tier, second; and then our first additional language, we believe, after that. I think you’ll start seeing things this year around that and probably all 3 gets done within the next 12 months or so depending on how the rollout goes, but you’ll begin to see those — our whole business this year.
Vince Talks About WWE’s New Direction
A question comes up for Vince on WWE being more edgy and what that exactly means and how the networks may react to a more “mature” product.
We’re going to be a bit edgier, but still remain in the PG environment. We just haven’t come anywhere close actually to going into another level. So that will be something we’ll do in terms of direction of content, more controversy, better storylines, et cetera. But at the same time, we’re not going to go back to the “attitude era”, and we’re not going to do blood and guts and things of that nature such as being done on perhaps a new potential competitor. We’re just not going to go back to that gory crap that we graduated from. And again, a more sophisticated product, again, attracting much better writers and attracting better management, things of that nature. So again, as I said, I feel really good about it.
AEW And Competition In General
For those of us wondering if Vince knows about AEW, he does. However, he doesn’t seem concerned when asked about investing in story writers and WWE’s competition.
As far as the competition is concerned, the old adage of competition’s good for everyone, I think that’s generally the case. Although again, we’re hoping that to the extent that they are competition, that they don’t continue on with blood and guts and gory things that they have been doing. That must be bad, and I can’t imagine — I can’t speak for TNT, but I can’t imagine they would put up with that. But nonetheless as far as investment is concerned, into the product, in the content, it’s not one of the sizable type things. It’s just more of a restructuring and more of utilization.
Yes, bringing in new faces, new blood, who have different kinds of ideas and connections and so forth. So again, it’s just not 1 man’s vision, it’s now a combination of what will happen in the future. So again I’m bullish on all of that. When you look at not just television ratings, but metrics from social and digital, what have you, that really is a new way of promoting, notwithstanding the fact that we are going to continue to build the mother ships as it were with Raw and SmackDown. So again, from an investment standpoint, that’s where you should obviously invest your dollar in, but it’s not sizable at all.
Conference Call Recap
This conference call contained a lot of boring business stuff, but I for one am excited to see WWE’s new direction. An investment in long term storylines and edgier content is an exciting prospect. However, this WWE Network tiered model has me concerned. I wonder if PPVs will no longer be included and will be half off with the WWE Network or something to that effect. We will see when the new model is rolled out.