Exclusive Analysis: WWE House Show Attendance Down, But Overall Attendance Is up

While the average attendance for WWE house shows in North America is down, total attendance and revenue related to live events are up this year, thanks to the fact the company is running more events.

Comparing the first half of each of the last six years, live event revenue is up while total attendance is stable. Total attendance is actually slightly up in 2016 thanks to NXT live events. (For NXT events referenced in this article, I’m only counting events outside of Florida and also the January 22 event in Orlando before 5,500 fans at CFE Arena. I’m not counting any of the small Florida house show events which only draw a few hundred fans and are likely not run at much of a profit.)

WWE live events are bringing in more revenue, but are they actually profiting more? Yes.

OIBDA is WWE’s choice profit metric. Over the first half of each of the last six years, OIBDA is up more often than not, often as the number of combined main roster and outside Florida NXT events have increased.

If we look at just main roster house shows in North America (non-televised events that take place in the U.S. or Canada), that metric is actually down.

Some of that decline is likely due to the absence of John Cena from house shows, beginning this year. Cena in the past has shown he’s a statistically significant house show draw.

But main roster average attendance overall, including televised and non-televised events, is barely down while revenue is up.

Is it the case that there are the same or a smaller number of WWE fans who are just paying more per person? While revenue has gone up, average ticket price hasn’t changed a lot in the last few years, though it is up about $5 from 2011. Average money on merchandise spent per attendee is flat at about $10 per person.

While anecdotally it may seem to be true that fans are spending more per person, there isn’t hard evidence in attendance metrics to support that yet. It’s possible the same or fewer unique people are attending more events, but unfortunately it’s difficult at least for us on the outside to measure that.

Some notes about the data referenced:

The following metrics were referenced from WWE financial documents such as Key Performance Indicators and Trending Schedules:

  • Number of main roster live events
  • Average North American main roster live event attendance
  • Average International main roster live event attendance
  • Live Event revenue
  • Live Event OIBDA
  • Venue merchandise revenue

The following metrics were collected from issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and cross-referenced with some data from cagematch.net:

  • Number of NXT events
  • Individual NXT attendances
  • Individual main roster North American house show attendances

Some of that data was collected by Chris Harrington, some by myself.

By Brandon Howard

More