WWE (NYSE:WWE) today announced some of the key initiatives in its 2013-2015 business plan, which is designed to achieve significant earnings growth, potentially doubling or tripling the company’s current 2012 EBITDA results by 2015. The primary drivers of this growth include the potential launch of a WWE network, the renewal of key content agreements, and the execution of our digital strategy. These initiatives, if successful, could generate substantial returns. However, they contain significant execution risks.
In order to achieve such growth, WWE will continue to invest in its production and creative capabilities. As a result, it is expected that WWE’s 2013 EBITDA will approximate 2012 results.
“Our plan to transform our business is based on the global appeal of our brands and the rising value of content,” stated Vince McMahon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “We believe we can achieve a significant increase in earnings based on launching a WWE network in the U.S. and international markets, leveraging the renewal of our largest content agreements, and developing digital products, such as mobile games and gamification of content, which take advantage of our presence online and in social media.”
“In order to achieve this growth, it is critical that we invest in content creation and brand building,” added George Barrios, Chief Financial Officer. “Our plan through 2015 indicates sufficient financial capacity to fund growth initiatives, support ongoing business requirements and maintain our current dividend.”
Foundation for Growth:
Powerful Global Brands and Rising Value of Content
Leveraging our global brand strength is a key pillar of our long-term strategy. Audience measures such as the magnitude of our social media followers and the consistent top ratings of our television programs demonstrate WWE’s brand strength. In 2012, the average number of viewers of our
programs exceeded the average number of primetime viewers for all cable networks and historically, our programs have ranked as the number one show on their respective networks. Further, our consumer research indicates a high proportion of U.S. and international TV viewers have an affinity for WWE content.
This research indicates that in the U.S., approximately 34% of digital multi-channel TV households have an affinity for WWE content (i.e., 31 million homes), one quarter of which (8 million homes) are characterized as very passionate fan households. Our research also indicates that an additional 18% of U.S. digital multi-channel TV households, or 16 million homes, include lapsed fans that we have the potential to re-engage with our content.
Trends in the cable industry support our belief that owning and monetizing WWE content has significant upside potential. Industry data shows that the value of content, as measured by network advertising and consumer paid subscriptions, has steadily increased and is expected to rise further across global markets. We believe that benchmarking the license fees of our content to other original programs and recognizing the rising value of sports programming rights are both indicative of our potential to garner increased revenue from our content.
Content Monetization: Licensing, Network and “OTT”
To maximize the value of our content, we plan to utilize three approaches: licensing our content to established television networks, potentially launching a WWE network through traditional cable, satellite and telco distribution, and monetizing our content through alternative digital “over-the-top” distribution. These options are not mutually exclusive. We plan to utilize combinations of these approaches in our domestic and international markets.