World Wrestling Entertainment Can’t Pin Down Subscribers

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Source: World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.
World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (NYSE: WWE) announced on Tuesday that the company’s digital network had signed up its one-millionth subscriber, a target the company has long said it needed to reach in order to break even. Shares jumped almost 25% to nearly $13. By noon Wednesday shares were trading again at around $11.75.

The devil was in the details. Since the end of the third quarter the network subscriber total rose by 37% the company said in a press release on Tuesday, “driven primarily by a successful free November promotion, the launch of the service in the U.K., and significant additions for the Royal Rumble pay-per-view event.”

In the third quarter pay-per-view revenues were down 75%, or about $10.9 million, while subscription revenues totaled $22.4 million. At the end of that quarter the company had 723,174 average monthly subscribers. Churn was awesome: gross additions totaled 285,000 and churn totaled 254,000 subscribers.

Pay-per-view buys were down 63% in the third quarter and average per-buy revenue declined 34% to just $12.83. WWE attributes the decline to an increase in international pay-per-view buyers who pay less than domestic viewers.

WWE’s network has been up and running for just under a year and to reach 1 million subscribers in that time is no small achievement. The trick is going to be keeping them. Otherwise, the company will have to resort to more promotional pricing to keep churning up new subscribers.

The company is scheduled to report fourth-quarter and full-year results next week, and analysts are expecting an earnings per share loss of $0.08 on revenues of $135.42 million for the quarter and an earnings per share loss of $0.47 on revenues of $537.56 million for the full-year.

Shares traded down nearly 5% on Wednesday at $11.88 in the mid-afternoon. The stock’s 52-week range is $9.82 to $31.98.

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