As critical as wrestling fans – and, based on recent developments, its wrestlers – can be about WWE, its corporate shareholders don’t have much to complain about. Indeed, the company’s annual shareholder meeting, held Thursday afternoon, was a dry, non-controversial affair, lasting only about as long as the opening promo segment on a typical episode of RAW.
During the first portion of the meeting – which was held virtually, and limited to shareholders only – it was strictly business, with an overwhelming majority of shareholders voting in favour of the three board proposals brought forth: the election of the full slate of proposed Board Directors; the appointment of Deloitte & Touche as the corporate auditors; and the approval of the proposed Executive Compensation Program.
After that, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Vince McMahon, President and Chief Revenue Officer Nick Khan, and Chief Financial Officer Frank Riddick III delivered some comments about the company’s performance in 2021 and its financial outlook for 2022.
Noting that last year’s revenues of $1.095B USD were record-breaking, all three predicted similar strong results in 2022. The success was credited to the company’s ability to monetize its existing intellectual property (IP), create new IP, and increase its viewership both live and through its various media broadcast partners.
In layman’s terms – fans worldwide are buying tickets to WWE events and/or watching WWE TV shows and Premium Live Events.
To supplement those revenue streams, WWE has also sought growth in other areas, with Khan listing off recent deals to expand its offerings in toys (Mattel), non-wrestling TV shows (A&E), NFTs, gambling, and live event experiences. They are also looking at expanding what’s already working, focusing on international growth, in part by replicating the Peacock deal in other markets and with other broadcast partnerships.
All this to say that the company is “well-positioned” for continued growth and another record-breaking year in 2022, according to both Khan and McMahon.
While the Shareholder Q&A sessions at some annual meetings can be as raucous as a Royal Rumble match, todays’ was fairly subdued, with no real controversial topics being addressed.
Executive Vice-President of Global Talent Strategy & Development Paul Levesque (aka “Triple H”) was asked a couple of questions about the company’s developmental plan, including on how to keep the rosters full on each of the company’s brands. In response, he pointed to the “Next in Line (NIL)” program that recruits collegiate athletes that provides “a clear pathway to becoming a WWE Superstar” and said that NIL has “opened up the floodgates” with potential stars with which they can stock the pond. He also noted that they are actively exploring opportunities to expand their Performance Centers both domestically and internationally, and will have future announcements in that regard.
The other question of note was whether they are actively looking to sell the company. Riddick noted that while they feel the current ownership is “best-positioned to maximize value, (they) are always open to evaluate opportunities if they can provide favourable economics to the company and our shareholders.”
McMahon’s simple and fairly dry closing comment was fairly representative of the tone and nature of the meeting as a whole:
“We appreciate our global fan base, our business partners as well, and most importantly our shareholders who stood by us and continue to embrace our vision.”