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WWE sets financial record while comparing WrestleMania to the Super Bowl

WWE’s YouTube channel

WWE has released its financial results for the first quarter (Q1) of 2022, which covers the beginning of the year through March 31. They are reporting a record level of $333.4 million in revenue for the quarter, along with a net income of $66.1 million.

Here is a summary statement from their press release about their Q1 performance, where Vince McMahon continues using the word “stupendous” to describe WrestleMania 38. Keep in mind that Adjusted OIBDA ($111.7 million) is WWE’s preferred metric for profit.

“We are off to a strong start in 2022, highlighted by record quarterly revenue and Adjusted OIBDA,” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO. “We continued to effectively execute our strategy, including staging the most stupendous WrestleMania ever in early April. WrestleMania, as well as our other successful premium live events such as Day 1, Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber, further expanded the reach of our brands and enhanced the value of our content as evidenced by increased ticket revenue and viewership. We continue to monetize our intellectual property across various platforms through our media rights agreements, both domestically and abroad, as well as through the monetization of new original series, including our expanded partnership with A&E.”

Frank Riddick, WWE Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, added “In the quarter, we exceeded the high end of our guidance. Adjusted OIBDA increased 33% reflecting 27% revenue growth. Our strong financial performance was primarily driven by our return to a full live event schedule, including the staging of a successful large-scale international event. These items more than offset the absence of one-time upfront revenue recognition related to the delivery of certain WWE Network intellectual property rights in the prior year period.”

As is typically the case in WWE jargon, the phrase “the staging of a successful large-scale international event” refers to their disgusting business partnership with the Saudi Arabian government, for which WWE is paid roughly $50 million per event.

The following graph shows that WWE’s total net revenue, total operating income, and total adjusted OIBDA are all way up from the Q1 2021, as described in their above statement:

One of the big differences between Q1 2022 and Q1 2021 is that this year’s quarter actually included ticketed live events, whereas last year was still in the empty ThunderDome era. This year’s first quarter also included a Saudi Arabia event, whereas 2021 did not. A ton of WWE’s revenue comes from its TV deals for Raw and SmackDown, and that money also increased compared to one year ago.

WWE also touted the following highlights from Q1 2022:

Announced a multi-year expansion of the Company’s original programming partnership with A&E that includes more than 130 new hours of premium WWE-themed series and specials

Announced a broadcast partnership with MBC Group, the largest and leading group in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, to air WWE premium live events, live episodes of Raw and SmackDown as well as WWE Network’s vast library of content

Announced a comprehensive, long-term partnership with Fanatics to create a new, enhanced digital platform for e-commerce and licensed merchandise, as well as physical, digital, and non-fungible token (NFT) trading cards

WWE 2K22, the latest installment of the Company’s flagship video game franchise, was released to strong consumer demand and rave reviews

Q1 2022 included WrestleMania 38, WWE’s biggest event of the year. Here is WWE hyping up WrestleMania as an event on par with the Super Bowl:

WrestleMania was held at AT&T Stadium in Dallas over two consecutive nights in front of a combined 156,352 fans. WrestleMania was WWE’s highest-grossing and most-attended event in company history

WrestleMania was the most viewed WWE premium live event of all time. Global unique viewership increased 54% and domestic unique viewership increased 61% year-over-year

WrestleMania was the second most viewed event on Peacock to date, behind only Super Bowl LVI

WrestleMania generated 2.2 billion social media impressions, more than the 1.8 billion impressions generated by Super Bowl LVI

WrestleMania viewership in India was a record 56.1 million, a 29% increase year-over-year

The overall story here is similar to how it’s been going for WWE over the last couple years with their huge TV rights money coming in from FOX and USA. Q1 2022 had the perfect storm of including both WrestleMania and a Saudi Arabia event as well, and the end result is record numbers for WWE.

The company is on track to set record annual profits again in 2022, just as they’ve been doing since the global pandemic began:

The Company reaffirms its expectations for 2022, which assume ticketed audiences at the Company’s live events for the full year, and target record revenue and an Adjusted OIBDA range of $360 - $375 million, which would be an all-time record. This range of anticipated performance reflects the continued ramp-up of live events, including large-scale international events, and increased monetization of content, partially offset by increased production, content-related, and other expenses.

The bottom line is that WWE is still rolling in the money, and it will stay that way thanks to their TV deals, Peacock deal, Saudi Arabia money, increasing stadium events, and so forth.