After one of the worst years in the modern era for the company in 2011, the business has recovered slightly in 2012 but overall is fairly stagnant. Here are the highlights:
- Overall revenue stayed almost exactly the same.
- International revenue was down and North American revenue was up, mainly because WWE removed some international live events and added some North American live events.
- Overall revenue from the live wrestling product was up 4%, largely due to more hours of television programming and strength of PPV.
- Live event revenue was slightly down due to a lack of demand in North America compared with internationally in 2011.
- Television rights fees were up considerably, mainly due to an extra hour of Raw and also due to other additional programming.
- PPV was up by a fair margin, aided by the return to programming of talent Brock Lesnar and an additional PPV appearance by talent Triple H.
- The consumer product business was down by 7% largely due to a lack of demand in the licensing department.
- Home entertainment was up slightly, largely due to the well recieved documentary on talent CM Punk.
- Digital media revenue was up 23%, an enormous jump, largely down to on-air promotion of online services Twitter and Tout, as well as the newly-launched WWE App.
- WWE Studios revenue was down by more than half, largely due to a change in the film distribution process to increase profitability.
- Profit contribution is up 18% because of strong TV and PPV, and the re-positioning of the film distribution business.
- Bottom line profit is $0.6m which sounds dreadful, but needs perspective as it was recovering from an $8.6m loss the prior year, and a lot of the costs on the business in 2012 are for projects that cannot or are yet to heed revenue (in the case of cannot - Linda McMahon's Senate campaign; in the case of are yet to - the proposed WWE Network).
- Free cash flow is $14.9m, compared with a loss of $2.1m, which is a huge recovery.
I know this kind of stuff bores a lot of people, but there are also people interested in this kind of stuff.
My conclusion is basically that Vince has finally realised his stupid fucking film business is worthless, and has re-positioned it cleverly so he doesn't have to throw away any equipment until it loses its value (which takes about five minutes in the film business). As a result, WWE goes back to making money. Simple.
Also, the wrestling product was well on target for a huge increase until it suffered from a number of problems in the second half of the year, arguably one or all of the following: predictability in the main event scene, an extra hour added to Raw, questionable booking of Ryback, over-booking of CM Punk in main event scene.
Overall though this is good news for WWE, and is sure to get better this year as Nielsen starts measuring the internet. I cannot explain how huge this is for WWE. Just to put it into perspective, here are two talents' YouTube rank when a part of their name is typed into the search engine:
- John Cena is ranked second if you type in 'John', in front of John Legend and John Lennon
- Ryback is ranked fifth if you type in 'Ry', in front of Ryan Seacrest
The same applies for almost all main event talents. The future is bright.