SBD/April 16, 2014/Media

WrestleMania PPV Buys Remain Strong Despite Presence Of WWE Network

WWE had nearly 400,000 domestic PPV buys for Wrestlemania XXX
WWE yesterday announced that WrestleMania XXX on April 6 reached a record 1 million HHs in the U.S. alone on the WWE Network and PPV combined. This is the first time WrestleMania has eclipsed that mark domestically. WWE Network currently has more than 667,000 subscribers in the U.S., with nearly 400,000 domestic PPV buys for the event (WWE). In Philadelphia, Vaughn Johnson wrote the number of PPV buys is actually "a pretty high number considering that people in this country had access to a much cheaper option than shelling out $65 to their cable or satellite provider." That is still "more than what most WWE pay-per-views garner on a regular basis." The final number of WrestleMania buys likely will be "pretty impressive once the international purchases are counted up" (PHILLY.com, 4/15). However, MULTICHANNEL NEWS' R. Thomas Umstead notes PPV event distributors reported a "significant year-to-year dropoff in PPV buys due to the event's airing on the WWE Network." One distributor said that WrestleMania was "off as much as 50%, and that the event probably would have done better than last year had it been distributed exclusively via PPV." WWE Chief Revenue & Marketing Officer Michelle Wilson said that WrestleMania's performance "bodes well for other upcoming PPV events." Wilson: "As long as our providers want us to offer pay-per-view, we're happy to do that and we're happy to give our fans a choice." Meanwhile, Wilson noted WWE is "still in discussions" for a cable home for both its "Monday Night Raw" and "SmackDown" franchises. NBCUniversal's deal to air the shows on USA Network and Syfy "expire in September," and NBCU's exclusive negotiating window for WWE properties "ended in February" (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 4/14 issue).

ON THE UP AND UP: In N.Y., Claire Atkinson notes WWE shares yesterday were up 3.8% to $20.75, and they "gained an added" 4.8% in the after-hours trading. The shares' spike "came despite rumors in WWE fan blogs that DirecTV would no longer offer the company's PPV programming." DirecTV confirmed that it is "dropping the WWE pay-per-views starting with the next event on May4." WWE Chair & CEO Vince McMahon is expected to announce "new TV partners in the coming weeks after failing to come to an agreement" with NBCU (N.Y. POST, 4/16).
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