WWE Reports $263.5 Million Revenue For First Quarter 2021, Full Financial Results

WWE has released its first-quarter 2021 financials report.

WWE reported revenue of $263.5 million, a decrease of 9% or $27.5 million from the first quarter of 2020. WWE noted that the decrease is reflecting the absence of the Company’s ticketed live events and a large-scale international event.

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The operating income was $65.1 million, an increase of 22% or $11.8 million from last year.

From WWE:

First Quarter 2021 Highlights*
* (All comparisons are versus the prior year period unless stated otherwise)

- Revenue was $263.5 million, a decrease of 9% or $27.5 million, reflecting the absence of the Company’s ticketed live events and a large-scale international event, partially offset by the upfront revenue recognition related to the delivery of certain WWE Network intellectual property rights

- Operating income was $65.1 million, an increase of 22% or $11.8 million, as the upfront revenue recognition related to the delivery of certain WWE Network intellectual property rights was partially offset by the absence of a large-scale international event

- Adjusted OIBDA1 was $83.9 million, an increase of 9% or $6.6 million

- WWE Network launched on Peacock, NBCU’s streaming service, in the U.S. on March 18, expanding the reach of WWE’s premium content, including live pay-per-views, original series and in-ring shows

- WWE transitioned Raw and SmackDown to the Yuengling Center in Tampa Bay (effective April 12), and continued to deliver a spectacular interactive experience, WWE ThunderDome, to fans

- WWE announced a multi-year extension with USA Network for NXT, which moved the airing of its two-hour, live show to Tuesday nights (effective April 13)

- Digital video views were 9.4 billion, a decrease of 2%, and hours consumed were 367 million, an increase of 7%, across digital and social platforms

- Return of capital to shareholders (share repurchases and dividends paid) totaled $84.2 million in 1Q21

WrestleMania Highlights (April 10-11, 2021)*
* (All comparisons are versus the prior year period unless stated otherwise)

- WrestleMania was held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida over two consecutive sold-out nights in front of a combined 51,350 fans. WrestleMania was the first WWE live event with a ticketed audience to take place since the COVID-19 outbreak more than one year ago

- WWE set WrestleMania Week viewership records with nearly 1.1 billion video views across digital and social platforms, representing a 14% increase from the prior year. A record of nearly 32 million hours of content was consumed during the week, an increase of 9% from the prior year

STAMFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- WWE (NYSE: WWE) today announced financial results for its first quarter ended March 31, 2021.

“During the first quarter, we continued to effectively execute our strategy, demonstrating our ability to adapt to a challenging live event environment and to expand the reach and monetization of our content in a changing media landscape,” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO. “The launch of WWE Network on NBCU’s streaming service, Peacock, the multi-year extension to distribute NXT on USA Network and the successful staging of WrestleMania illustrate the enduring and increasing value of the WWE brand as the foundation for long-term growth.”

Kristina Salen, WWE Chief Financial Officer, added “In the quarter, Adjusted OIBDA results were driven by the recognition of revenue from our Peacock agreement. Although Adjusted OIBDA increased in the quarter, we are not adjusting our previous full year Adjusted OIBDA guidance of $270 million to $305 million at this time, given the uncertainty regarding the timing and pace of return for ticketed audiences and our ability to stage international large-scale events due to COVID-19 restrictions.”

First-Quarter Consolidated Results*
* (All comparisons are versus the prior year period unless stated otherwise)

- Revenue was $263.5 million, a decrease of 9% or $27.5 million, primarily due to the cancellation of the Company’s live events, including a large-scale international event, and the associated loss of merchandise sales, all due to COVID-19. These declines were partially offset by an increase in network revenue, which was primarily driven by the upfront revenue recognition related to the delivery of certain WWE Network intellectual property rights, and, to a lesser extent, the contractual escalation of domestic core content rights fees.

- Operating Income was $65.1 million, an increase of 22% or $11.8 million, as upfront revenue recognition related to the delivery of certain WWE Network intellectual property rights and, to a lesser extent, the contractual escalation of domestic core content rights fees as well as a decrease in stock compensation expense were partially offset by the absence of a large-scale international event. The change in stock compensation expense increased the growth rate in Operating Income as compared to the growth rate in Adjusted OIBDA. The Company’s Operating income margin increased to 24.7% from 18.3%.

- Adjusted OIBDA (which excludes stock compensation) was $83.9 million, an increase of 9% or $6.6 million, as the upfront revenue recognition related to the delivery of certain WWE Network intellectual property rights and, to a lesser extent, the contractual escalation of domestic core content rights fees, were partially offset by the absence of a large-scale international event. The Company’s Adjusted OIBDA margin increased to 31.8% from 26.6%.

- Net Income was $43.8 million, or $0.51 per diluted share, an increase from $26.2 million, or $0.31 per diluted share, in the first quarter 2020, primarily reflecting improved operating performance and, to a lesser extent, the absence of impairment charges related to certain equity investments.

- Cash flows generated by operating activities were $59.9 million, a decrease from $65.9 million, as improved operating performance was more than offset by the timing of collections associated with Network revenue.

- Free Cash Flow was $53.8 million, a decrease from $57.6 million, primarily due to the change in operating cash flow, partially offset by a reduction in capital expenditures.

- Cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments were $461 million as of March 31, 2021, which reflects the repayment of the remaining $100 million borrowed under the Company’s revolving line of credit during the second quarter 2020. As a result, the Company estimates debt capacity under its currently undrawn revolving line of credit of $200 million.

You can view the full report by clicking here.

You can also listen to the first-quarter financials calls beginning at 5 p.m. ET by clicking here.

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