WWE’s latest earnings call revealed income is up while satisfaction is down.
COVID-19 forced the wrestling community to grind to a halt, just like much of the rest of the known world. Independent groups were forced to shutter their doors, wrestlers were unable to work and the promotions that were able to run had to figure out shows without crowds. As uncertainty hit the industry, WWE has found a way to increase its financial strength in unforeseen ways. Whether it is bad booking, plummeting ratings, or news such as this, the WWE continues to paint itself as the bad guy of the professional wrestling industry.
During Thursday’s earnings call, several financial highlights were revealed. The two that caught the most scrutiny were operating income, which was reported to be $55.7 million compared to $17.1 million in 2019. The same was said about adjusted OIBDA which was $73.5 million compared to $34.6 million the same quarter in 2019. One does not need to fully understand those numbers to tell that the WWE’s income continues to rise even in the face of a global pandemic that has vastly changed the industry.
The first question that comes to mind should be why the company cut several people in April, as it would be highly difficult for them to find work. The WWE may present their answer as a needed move due to COVID-19, but the numbers presented during their own financial call shows different. As is seen many times in big business, that move was an opportunity to fill the coffers and inflate the war chest. Was it a smart business move for WWE leadership? The answers say yes, but was it one that enamored the company in the eyes of fans and pundits? Not at all.
But the ratings are dropping . Yea? So What?
Then there is the comments that came from WWE CEO and Chairman, Vince McMahon.
“Notwithstanding that, I think we can have more compelling characters, better storylines, new characters coming in, and more content that is not necessary in-ring and is more focused on personalities outside of the ring,” McMahon said during call. “More than any other sport, our audience is part of our program. The audience is integral to our success and ratings.”
These statements come at a time when the WWE is seeing plummeting ratings across all its televised content. While it is understandable to blame some of that on the fact that crowds cannot be in attendance, WWE has been suffering ratings drops for more than just quarter two of 2020. Plus, looking at McMahon’s comments shows that the programming could be better if that decision were made.
The idea that the WWE is keeping “compelling characters, better storylines, new characters” from its viewers speaks to leadership ignoring what its customer base is pleading to see. The WWE has the best roster in wrestling yet is making the decision to not utilize them in such a way. And they are not suffering financially for such a decision.
Roman Reigns is the “Big Dog” in the WWE, but the WWE is the biggest dog in the industry. With income reaching new levels as ratings continue to plummet, there is no incentive for the WWE to change. There was a time when fans took to social media to complain, but even that is turning to apathy as more tune out in droves. It is an interesting time to be a fan of professional wrestling, even as the WWE continues to make itself appear to be the bad guy in the room.