Monday, April 21, 2014

WWF Wrestler Mortality - 5+ PPVs

A lot of people have been talking about Benjamin Morris' 538 piece, "Are Pro Wrestlers Dying at an Unusual Rate?"

His analysis looked at wrestlers who were on 20+ PPVs through 2002.  I went with a lower threshold 5+ PPVs expanded through 2013.  Here's what I found:

35-40 year olds: 35 alive, 1 dead = 2.8% dead (vs. 1.9% expected)
(John Cena, Rey Mysterio, CM Punk, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Sheamus, Trish Stratus, Alberto Del Rio, MVP, Shelton Benjamin, Brock Lesnar, Melina, Carlito, Santino Marella, Layla, Bobby Lashley, Hurricane Helms, Lita, Mr Kennedy, Torrie Wilson, Jamie Noble, Rhyno, Molly Holly, Billy Kidman, Rob Conway, Sylvain Grenier, Candice Michelle, Nick Dinsmore, Titus O'Neil, Gail Kim, Tamina Snuka, Ezekiel Jackson, Elijah Burke, Danny Basham, Maven;Test)

40-45 year olds: 44 alive, 4 dead = 8.3% dead (vs. 3% expected)
(Triple H, Edge, The Big Show, Chris Jericho, Christian, The Rock, Mark Henry, Bubba Ray Dudley, D-Von Dudley, Sean Waltman, Rob Van Dam, The Road Dogg, Ron Killings, Chavo Guerrero Jr, Val Venis, The Great Khali, Shane McMahon, Matt Bloom, D-Lo Brown, Tajiri, Victoria, Scott Taylor, Chyna, Charlie Haas, Spike Dudley, Ahmed Johnson, Brian Christopher, Mosh, Thrasher, Tommy Dreamer, Nunzio, Taka Michinoku, Super Crazy, Vladimir Kozlov, Chuck Palumbo, Jazz, Dawn Marie, Rosey, Jon Heidenreich, Stevie Richards, Gene Snitsky, Jonathan Coachman, Doug Basham, Luther Reigns; Umaga, Chris Candido, Crash Holly, Umaga, Viscera)

45-50 year olds: 29 alive, 4 dead = 12.1% dead (vs. 5.1% expected)
(The Undertaker, Glen Jacobs, Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle, Batista, Bradshaw, Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Booker T, Dustin Rhodes, William Regal, Rikishi, Jeff Jarrett, Savio Vega, Dennis Knight, Lance Storm, Tazz, Sho Funaki, Perry Saturn, Bull Buchanan, Sable, Scorpio, Goldberg, Sabu, Raven, Brian Lee, David Heath, Brian Knobbs, Jerry Sags; Chris Benoit, Owen Hart, Eddie Guerrero, Yokozuna)

50-55 year olds: 33 alive, 8 dead = 19.5% dead (vs. 7.5% expected)
(Billy Gunn, Hardcore Holly, Ken Shamrock, Kevin Nash, Animal, Al Snow, Jacques Rougeau, Marty Jannetty, Charles Wright, Bart Gunn, Mark Canterbury, Marc Mero, Sid Vicious, Barry Darsow, Steve Blackman, Tatanka, Scott Steiner, The Warlord, Ivory, Ron Harris, Don Harris, Virgil, Jacqueline, Tom Prichard, Paul Roma, Samu, One Man Gang, Dean Malenko, Mike Enos, Bryan Clark, Rick Steiner, Boris Zhukov, Pat Tanaka; Davey Boy Smith, The Big Bossman, Brian Adams, Bam Bam Bigelow, The Ultimate Warrior, John Tenta, Luna, Kerry von Erich)

55-60 year olds: 19 alive, 5 dead = 20.8% dead (vs. 10.4% expected)
(Bret Hart, Ron Simmons, Scott Hall, Fit Finlay, Jake Roberts, Vader, Jim Neidhart, Mike Rotundo, Rick Martel, Brutus Beefcake, Haku, Lex Luger, Raymond Rougeau, The Barbarian, The Dynamite Kid, Koko B Ware, Fred Ottman, King Kong Bundy, Wayne Bloom; Hawk, Hercules Hernandez, Curt Hennig, Rick Rude, Adrian Adonis)

So, according to the mortality charts, we'd expect about 9-10 dead wrestlers. There's 22 dead out of this group of 182. In the 40-60 age range, twenty-one died when we'd expect less than nine.

-Chris Harrington (@mookieghana)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

WWE 2014 PPV + OTT Revenue/Profitability

When it comes to estimating the cost-benefit of launching the WWE Network, I've put together a helpful little chart.

WWE REVENUE CHART



This looks at the two most important factors:

  1. How much will the WWE Network grow (monthly) between now and the end of the year?
  2. What portion of domestic PPV buys will remain for the PPVs between now and the end of the year?

WWE Network Growth



Some important notes about this table:
  • OBIDA is PRIOR to Cannibalization.
  • Growth is looking at "monthly growth over prior month" starting in May.
  • Assumes costs begin to grow after 1M subscribers.
More about those Costs
In the original WWE Financial presentation, WWE costs for the Network were $55M for up to 1 million subscribers, $115M for 2 million subscribers and $140M for 3 million subscribers.  We assumed the fixed cost for is about $55M and variable cost that grows once the service surpasses one million subscribers.  That's why they actually have a higher WWE Network OBIDA (remember this is prior to revenue cannibalization) at 1M subscribers than at 1.45M subscribers.

Example of 2% for monthly WWE Network Revenue


WWE PPV Results


Some important notes about this table:
  • I established a "baseline" for all PPVs going forward based on the three-year average. (see)
  • I assumed PPV Cost of $39M.  It could be more (it was $48M in 2013 and a little less than $39M in 2011/2012).
  • I assumed Worldwide PPV buys would remain at about 95% of the baseline.

Because we have estimated buys for Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber and Wrestlemania that already represents about $26.6M in revenue that has already been achieved.

Combined WWE PPV and WWE Network OBIDA



Combing PPV and WWE Network OBIDA results in this table.  As noted before, because the WWE Network costs were expected to escalate after a million subscribers, the 5% WWE Network growth scenario (just around 1 million subscibers) was actually a higher OBIDA than the 10% growth scenario.

COMMENTARY

For the record, I established growth at about 2% for the rest of the year, and expect somewhere between 33% and 66% of domestic buys retention.  That would put the OBIDA range from $37M to $29M.
I don't consider that a failure, but it's not an astounding success either.  Note that I haven't included any estimates for what other revenue cannibalization might look like (Home Entertainment, Digital Media).

The key is that right now WWE makes between $34.1M (2013) to $44.9M (2012) in PPV OBIDA.  So, in this scenario WWE manages to achieve the same OBIDA but through working a lot harder and generating more top-line revenue.  With the possibility of more PPV providers dropping coverage (ala DirecTV), I'm not sure they can grow the WWE Network fast enough to make up for lost PPV OBIDA.

All Analysis by Chris Harrington (chris.harrington@gmail.com)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Estimating 2014 Profitability for WWE PPV w/ WWE Network

Yesterday, WWE reported 400,000 US homes purchased Wrestlemania XXX via traditional PPV means.  With internal expectactions running at about 250,000, this number was considered a large sucess for the WWE since domestic buys were only at about 66% of last year's level.

I was joined by David Bixenspan (@davidbix) to discuss these numbers on a quick 15 minute podcast which was a great follow-up to my one-hour broadcast with Bix last week  discussing the relevance of the 667,287 subscriber numbers (a story that many media reports completely missed).

The challenge was: With the latest data, can we determine what the revenue & profit impact of the WWE Network looks like for 2014?

Here's my take....

KNOWN DATA

Here is PPV Revenue 2011-2013 by Quarter (see trending schedules 2011-2013 from corporate.wwe.com)


YEAR: Q1 / Q2 / Q3 /Q4
2011: 13.5 / 34.4 / 15.8 / 14.6
2012: 13.5 / 40.8 / 16.3 / 13.0
2013: 15.1 / 37.1 / 14.6 / 15.7

From the latest annual report:
Pay-per-view net revenues were $82.5 million, $83.6 million and $78.3 million, representing 16%, 17% and 16% of total net revenues in 2013, 2012 and 2011, respectively, of which $66.9 million, $66.4 million, and $61.3 million were generated domestically.

2011
Royal Rumble 2011 (1/30/2011): 281k North American buys + 195k other buys outside North America {Q1}
Elimination Chamber 2011 (2/20/2011): 145k North American buys + 67k other buys outside North America {Q1}
WrestleMania XXVII (4/3/2011): 679k North American buys + 445k other buys outside North America {Q2}
Extreme Rules 2011 (5/1/2011): 108k North American buys + 108k other buys outside North America {Q2}
Over the Limit 2011 (5/22/2011): 72k North American buys + 73k other buys outside North America {Q2}
Capitol Punishment 2011 (6/19/2011): 85k North American buys + 91k other buys outside North America {Q2}
Money in the Bank 2011 (7/17/2011): 146k North American buys + 59k other buys outside North America {Q3}
SummerSlam 2011 (8/14/2011): 180k North American buys + 131k other buys outside North America {Q3}
Night of Champions 2011 (9/18/2011): 109k North American buys + 60k other buys outside North America {Q3}
Hell in a Cell 2011 (10/2/2011): 98k North American buys + 84k other buys outside North America {Q4}
Vengeance 2011 (10/23/2011): 65k North American buys + 56k other buys outside North America {Q4}
Survivor Series 2011 (11/20/2011): 179k North American buys + 133k other buys outside North America {Q4}
TLC 2011 (12/18/2011): 98k North American buys + 81k other buys outside North America {Q4}

2012
Royal Rumble 2012 (1/29/2012): 299k North American buys + 184k other buys outside North America {Q1}
Elimination Chamber 2012 (2/19/2012): 138k North American buys + 56k other buys outside North America {Q1}
WrestleMania XXXVIII (4/1/2012): 715k North American buys + 504k other buys outside North America {Q2}
Extreme Rules 2012 (4/29/2012): 159k North American buys + 112k other buys outside North America {Q2}
Over the Limit 2012 (5/20/2012): 124k North American buys + 48k other buys outside North America {Q2}
No Way Out 2012 (6/17/2012): 110k North American buys + 90k other buys outside North America {Q2}
Money in the Bank 2012 (7/15/2012): 114k North American buys + 92k other buys outside North America {Q3}
SummerSlam 2012 (8/19/2012): 296k North American buys + 96k other buys outside North America {Q3}
Night of Champions 2012 (9/16/2012): 112k North American buys + 95k other buys outside North America {Q3}
Hell in a Cell 2012 (10/28/2012): 157k North American buys + 50k other buys outside North America {Q4}
Survivor Series 2012 (11/18/2012): 125k North American buys + 91k other buys outside North America {Q4}
TLC 2012 (12/16/2012): 75k North American buys + 106k other buys outside North America {Q4}

2013
Royal Rumble 2013 (1/27/2013): 364k North American buys + 215k other buys outside North America {Q1}
Elimination Chamber 2013 (2/17/2013): 181k North American buys + 60k other buys outside North America {Q1}
WrestleMania 29 (4/7/2013): 662k North American buys + 442k other buys outside North America {Q2}
Extreme Rules 2013 (5/19/2013): 137k North American buys + 108k other buys outside North America {Q2}
Payback 2013 (6/16/2013): 108k North American buys + 90k other buys outside North America {Q2}
Money in the Bank 2013 (7/14/2013): 169k North American buys + 54k other buys outside North America {Q3}
SummerSlam 2013 (8/18/2013): 207k North American buys + 125k other buys outside North America {Q3}
Night of Champions 2013 (9/15/2013): 103k North American buys + 93k other buys outside North America {Q3}
Battleground 2013 (10/6/2013): 81k North American buys + 33k other buys outside North America {Q4}
Hell in a Cell 2013 (10/27/2013): 130k North American buys + 98k other buys outside North America {Q4}
Survivor Series 2013 (11/24/2013): 94k North American buys + 83k other buys outside North America {Q4}
TLC 2013 (12/15/2013): 140k North American buys + 41k other buys outside North America {Q4}


REGRESSION (Buys -> Revenue)

We can estimate buys for 2014, but we want to compare revenue. We can run a regression where our inputs are Quarterly North American Buys x PPV Price & Quarterly Outside North American Buys x PPV Price and our output is Actual Quarterly PPV Revenue.


(x-axis is total PPV revenue from NA before splits, y-axis is total PPV revenue from INTL before splits - assumes same PPV price; size of bubble if actual WWE PPV revenue)

Inputs: x = NA buys, y = Buys from Outside NA, z = Price of PPV
Quarterly PPV Revenue generated during non-WM qtr = sum of QTRly {z*(x*.505 + y*.353)}
Quarterly PPV Revenue generated during WM qtr = sum of QTRly {z*(x*.632 + y*.125)}

With this formula, we can estimate how much revenue will be generated.

So, for Q1 2014:
Royal Rumble 2014 (1/26/2014) - 285k NA buys, 160k outside NA buys
Elimination Chamber 2014 (2/23/2014) - 156k NA buys, 47k outside NA buys
I'll assume PPV price of $44.95 (consistent with what was assumed for 2011/2012/2013. (While there is a greater percentage of folks buying PPV in HD, this is a decent proxy since our regression is handling the buys to revenue conversion -- I'm applying the same percentage as last year so it should be in the ballpark.)

Q1 2014 revenue estimate: (441,000*.505+207,000*.353)*44.95 = $13.3M (a drop from 2013 since Rock wasn't wrestling, in line with 2011/2012).

ESTIMATE BUYS FOR REST OF 2014


This is, of course, the great unknown. What do we assume for baseline for WWE PPVs? How much should we adjust?

Here's how I handled it:
a. Take the average of 2011/2012/2013 buys (split into NA and non-NA)
b. Assume 60% retention for NA buys
c. Assume 95% retention for non-NA buys

Q2 2014
WrestleMania XXX (4/6/2014): 400,000 US homes + 66,000 Canadian homes + 440,483 non-NA homes
Extreme Rules 2014 (5/4/2014): 81,000 NA homes + 104,000 non-NA homes
Payback 2014 (6/1/2014): 58,000 NA homes + 80,000 non-NA homes
Money in the Bank 2014 (6/29/2014 ): 73,000 NA homes + 75,000 non-NA homes
Estimated Q2 revenue: $28.4M

Q3 2014
Battleground 2014 (7/20/2014): 86,000 NA homes + 65,000 non-NA homes
SummerSlam 2014 (8/17/2014 ): 137,000 NA homes + 111,000 non-NA homes
Night of Champions 2014 (9/21/2014): 65,000 NA homes + 79,000 non-NA homes
Estimated Q3 revenue: $10.6M

Q4 2014
Hell in a Cell 2014 (10/26/2014): 77,000 NA homes + 73,000 non-NA homes
Survivor Series 2014 (11/23/2014): 80,000 NA homes + 97,000 non-NA homes
TLC 2014 (12/14/2014): 63,000 NA homes + 72,000 non-NA homes
Estimated Q4 revenue: $8.8M

Total estimate 2014 PPV Revenue was: $13.3M+$28.4M+$10.6M+$8.8M = $61.1M (about $45.8M domestic PPV revenue)

ESTIMATE OTT REVENUE FOR 2014


* I assumed that there's about 2% growth for the rest of year. That would end the year around 800,000 subscribers.



Estimate WWE Network Revenue in 2014
Q1: $4.15M
Q2: $19.99M (ends 700k subscribers)
Q3: $22.06M (ends 750k subscribers)
Q4: $23.41M (ends 800k subscribers)

Combined Revenue Streams and Examine Profitability


PPV = Pay-per-view; OTT = Over-the-top (WWE Network)

2014 PPV + OTT
Q1 = $13.3M (PPV) + $4.1M (OTT) = $17,446,000
Q2 = $28.4M (PPV) + $20.0M (OTT) = $48,408,000
Q3 = $10.6M (PPV) + $22.1M (OTT) = $32,628,000
Q4 = $8.8M (PPV) + $23.4M (OTT) = $32,243,000
TOTAL: $61.11M (PPV) + $69.61M (OTT) = $130,725,000

Estimate Expenses:
PPV
2011 PPV OBIDA = $39.8M from $78.3M revenue (51%)
2012 PPV OBIDA = $44.9M from $83.6M revenue (54%)
2013 PPV OBIDA = $34.1M from $82.5M revenue (41%)
Average: 49%

We'll assume median PPV cost of $38.7M

Estimated 2014 PPV OBIDA = $61.M - $38.7M = $22.4M

OTT

2014 OTT Expenses (prior to cannibalization) was $55M in the original WWE presentation for levels under 1 million subscribers.

Estimate 2014 OTT OBIDA = $69.61M - $55.00M = $14.61M

Combined OBIDA (prior to other cannibalization): $14.6M (OTT) + $22.4M (PPV)  = $37M (28%)

HOME ENTERTAINMENT

I haven't included any estimate for what this will do the Home Entertainment Business, which is another source of revenue cannibalization.
Last year, Home Entertainment Revenue was $24.3M and OBIDA on that segment was $8.8M (36%).

Conclusion

Ultimately, with these assumptions (I left out international WWE Network launch because that adds both more expenses and drops buys), we end up with OBIDA for PPV+OTT basically between 2011/2013 levels. Revenue is up a lot, but so are costs. And I'm not sure if the $55M costs that WWE listed really will include the full burden for launch/start-up/marketing elements. So, at this point, it appears to be a wash, but I've got a lot of assumptions that B-level PPVs continue at 60% of the baseline, which seems very high to me.  If you want to apply ridiculous growth rates to WWE Network, you can make it look great. If you want to assume b-level PPV dropoff is much more severe than I assumed (60% of previous baseline), then it's going to look weaker.
-Chris Harrington (@mookieghana)

Other important reads:

* My analysis of Needham's report: Grossly Overestimating future Revenues.

As always, feel free to talk to me at chris.harrington@gmail.com

Friday, April 11, 2014

WWF 1987-1992 Draw #Wrestlenomics

I looked at what I had for attendance for people who were in the ring alongside IC/World Champion and/or in the last match of the night. I excluded PPVs and Japanese shows. You needed a minimum number of entries on this list in order to be included (15 for 1980-1986, 25 for 1987-1992).  Average attendance was calculated based on cities that had attendance figures from The History of WWE. It's an imperfect method and obviously cities of different sizes were run on the same day. However, I think when we see some of the same people over and over again in the biggest cities that says something both about how the WWF viewed that person as a draw as well as possible evidence of their actual drawing power.
(I wouldn't suggest there's a real material difference within most tier - i.e. Kamala vs Killer Kahn vs One Man Gang in 1987 -- all three were the opponents Hogan had on the road and did quite well with.)


I looked at what I had for attendance for people who were in the ring alongside IC/World Champion and/or in the last match of the night.  I excluded PPVs and Japanese shows. 

Also, I wouldn't suggest there's a real material difference within most tier - i.e. Kamala vs Killer Kahn vs One Man Gang in 1987 -- all three were the opponents Hogan had on the road and did quite well with.

LLL AAA made a good point that TV tapings may distort things.

1980
 Bob Backlund (14083)
 Pat Patterson (13557)
 Ken Patera (12022)

1981
 Bob Backlund (12370), Pedro Morales (11879),  Don Muraco (11685),  Tony Garea (11648),  Rick Martel (11365)
 Angelo Mosca (10515)

1982
 Bob Backlund (10748), Pedro Morales (10383)
 Greg Valentine (8927),  Mr Saito (8689), Mr Fuji (8598)

1983
 Rocky Johnson (10613), Jimmy Snuka (9863), Don Muraco (9841), Bob Backlund (9522)

1984
Hulk Hogan (10447), Paul Orndorff (10321), David Schultz (10261)
Rocky Johnson (9836), Iron Sheik (9549)
Tito Santana (8908), Sgt Slaughter (8860), Greg Valentine (8226), Big John Studd (8139)
Roddy Piper (7450), Jimmy Snuka (7417), Ivan Putski (7254)
Andre the Giant (5836)

1985
 Hulk Hogan (11116), Randy Savage (10548)
 Don Muraco (9025), Roddy Piper (9015)
 Ricky Steamboat (8504), Brutus Beefcake (8477), Big John Studd (8408), Greg Valentine (7998), Bob Orton Jr (7890), Junkyard Dog (7738), Andre the Giant (7614), Tito Santana (7585), Paul Orndorff (7502), King Kong Bundy (7497)
 Nikolai Volkoff (7262), Ken Patera (6803), Jimmy Snuka (6282), Iron Sheik (6111), Barry Windham (5888), Mike Rotundo (5804)

1986
 Hulk Hogan (11539), Paul Orndorff (11471)
 Big John Studd (9061), Don Muraco (8861),  Blackjack Mulligan (8830), Dynamite Kid (8816), Greg Valentine (8773), Brutus Beefcake (8664), Randy Savage (8612), Roddy Piper (8546), Tito Santana (8500), Davey Boy Smith (8244)
 King Kong Bundy (8062), Adrian Adonis (7911), George Steele (7291), Dory Funk Jr (7092), Junkyard Dog (7074)
 Ricky Steamboat (5723), Jake Roberts (5260)

1987
TIER A: Kamala (9972), Hulk Hogan (9791), One Man Gang/Akeem (9546), Killer Khan (9420)
TIER B: King Kong Bundy (8494), Ricky Steamboat (8077), Randy Savage (7807)
TIER C: George Steele (7116), Honkytonk Man (7071), Harley Race (6847), Billy Jack Haynes (6826), Junkyard Dog (6618), Bret Hart (6608), Hercules (6443), Jim Neidhart (6430), Butch Reed (6255), Haku (6239), Paul Orndorff (6194), Dynamite Kid (6096), Jake Roberts (6037)

1988
TIER A: Big Bossman (9955), Hulk Hogan (9792), Bam Bam Bigelow (9161), Ultimate Warrior (8467)
TIER B: Honkytonk Man (7649), Randy Savage (7646), Andre the Giant (7559), Jim Neidhart (7556), Ted DiBiase (7541), Rick Martel (7533), Bret Hart (7452)
TIER C: Brutus Beefcake (6201), Tito Santana (5825), Jake Roberts (5614), Rick Rude (5543), Jim Duggan (5038), One Man Gang/Akeem (4826)

1989
TIER A: Hulk Hogan (10603), Randy Savage (9655), Roddy Piper (9479), Big Bossman (9424)
TIER B: Bad News Brown (8118), Ted DiBiase (7735)
TIER C: Ultimate Warrior (7294), Rick Rude (7152), Andre the Giant (6488), Bill Eadie (6391), Barry Darsow (6391), Brutus Beefcake (5999), Jim Duggan (5881), Jake Roberts (5856), Marty Jannetty (5378), Shawn Michaels (5378)

1990
TIER A: Hulk Hogan (9018)
TIER B: Brutus Beefcake (7393), Mr Perfect (7222), Rick Rude (6795), Roddy Piper (6676), Jake Roberts (6302), Ultimate Warrior (6270), Dino Bravo (6268), Kerry Von Erich (6096)
TIER C: Jim Duggan (5797), Earthquake (5713), Big Bossman (5553), Crush (5522), Ted DiBiase (5456), Bret Hart (5191), Jim Neidhart (5191), Fred Ottman (5143), Barry Darsow (5141), Legion of Doom (4880), Randy Savage (4860)

1991
TIER A: Hulk Hogan (8818), Earthquake (7913), Ric Flair (7873), Mr Perfect (7609)
TIER B: Sgt Slaughter (7095), Jacques Rougeau (7082), Ted DiBiase (7049), Nasty Boys (6945), Ultimate Warrior (6629), Undertaker (6261), Bret Hart (6238), Roddy Piper (6077)
TIER C: Davey Boy Smith (5814), Jim Duggan (5666), Warlord (5306), Big Bossman (5120), Randy Savage (4507), Jake Roberts (4364)

1992
TIER A: Sid Justice (8561), Hulk Hogan (7928)
TIER B: Roddy Piper (6974), Jacques Rougeau (6973)
TIER C: Jake Roberts (5522), Undertaker (5433), Ric Flair (5334), Randy Savage (5297), Nailz (4927), Davey Boy Smith (4890), Bret Hart (4890), Razor Ramon (4555), Kamala (4442), Shawn Michaels (4368)
TIER D: Ultimate Warrior (3726), Papa Shango (3714)

1996
(No one was really a Tier A draw at that time. Warrior's 5211 would have been right between Goldust and Vader)
TIER B: Bret Hart (6767), Shawn Michaels (5963), Undertaker (5954), Goldust (5567)
TIER C: Vader (4971), Mankind (4802), Hunter Hearst Helmsley (4556), Marc Mero (4212)

Obviously, if you add back in PPVs/Tokyo Domes/etc, that will prop up some of the numbers for those champions/headliners/challengers at that time.

People who were relevant for several years
TIER A: Hulk Hogan (575) = 9609 average

TIER B: Big Bossman (192) = 7453 average, Mr Perfect (318) = 7340 average, Honkytonk Man (377) = 7297 average, Roddy Piper (198) = 7199 average, Ted DiBiase (263) = 7143 average, Randy Savage (828) = 7112 average, Andre the Giant (213) = 7097 average, One Man Gang/Akeem (110) = 6919 average

TIER C: Jacques Rougeau (120) = 6752 average, Rick Rude (266) = 6601 average, Earthquake (129) = 6598 average, Ultimate Warrior (675) = 6573 average, Jim Neidhart (155) = 6299 average, Brutus Beefcake (145) = 6207 average

TIER D: Davey Boy Smith (185) = 6034 average, Undertaker (210) = 5943 average, Bill Eadie (113) = 5872 average, Bret Hart (474) = 5843 average, Rick Martel (106) = 5766 average, Barry Darsow (155) = 5743 average, Ric Flair (217) = 5741 average, Jake Roberts (289) = 5681 average, Tito Santana (122) = 5510 average, Jim Duggan (199) = 5374 average, Shawn Michaels (315) = 5309 average

That's my #wrestlenomics on the subject.
4.11.2014 Analysis by @mookieghana 

Statistics on 1987-1992 dataset
Matches in dataset: 26,309
Events in dataset: 3,273
Events with Attendance in dataset: 1,766
Wrestlers with 20 or more "main events": 91
Awesome Draws: 1 - Hulk Hogan.
 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Who could take over after Vince McMahon?

Dave Meltzer brought up this point on last night's Wrestling Observer radio: it's not clear that Paul Levesque has the business experience that would be required to run the whole WWE.

If you look at the candidates they range from his family (Linda, Stephanie, Shane, HHH) to current top ranks (Chief Strategy & CFO George Barrios, revenue & marketing officer Michelle Wilson, long-time right-hand man vice president Kevin Dunn) to former directors (Ex-COO Basil DeVito, Ex-CFO Mike Sileck, Ex-EVP Donna Goldsmith). However, while these individuals have requisite experience with WWE and demonstrated their leadership skills, they're all quite imperfect. They understand the challenges and demands of the running such a busy enterprise, and appreciate the unique industry space that WWE occupies. But none of these candidates truly have the complete skill set required to wrangle the many revenue arms of the WWE. I can't see any of them as truly effective leaders of the current company.

They're a TV company, they're an over-the-top streaming service company, they're an entertainment/talent company, they're still sort of a PPV company, they're an online website company, they're a merchandising & licensing company, they're a video game company, they're a Film product/distribution company, they're a publishing company, they're a live event company, etc.

I can't imagine a hired hand that could eat, sleep and breathe wrestling like Vince. He's had the benefit of being on top of the empire as it's evolved over these years. Would it work better to just install a competent manager who can then have underlings direct each of the major divisions? Do they need another crazy billionaire (ala Mark Cuban)? About the only job with as many headaches (talent, TV negotiations, merchandising, embracing new media, etc.) would seem to be like the GM of a major sports franchise.

Can anyone think of another company that had to go through a similar transition from powerful patriarch to next generation successfully? Disney, Ringling Bros./Barnum & Bailey Circus, Ford, NewsCorp?  Who do you think could succeed Vince McMahon?

Monday, April 07, 2014

WWE Network announces 667,287 Subscribers

This morning the WWE announced that the WWE Network currently had 667,287 subscribers. I've written an extensive analysis of what this means over at Whatculture.

While WWE can project this as a great number using language like “fastest-growing digital subscription service” and “on track to 1 million subscribers”, this number is hardly a slam-dunk.  It's at the bottom edge of what is the acceptable number.  If the WWE Network needs 1M domestic subscribers to break even (on OIBDA), now that Wrestlemania is over, where are they going to find the last 250,000?

In recent weeks, I'd grown more optimistic about what they were going to announce so I must admit I was a little shocked when they admitted they were only at 2/3rds of a million subscribers. However, I was reminded by @voicesofwrestling that I'd actually predicted 650,000 by Wrestlemania in a piece that I wrote one week after the WWE Network launch.

If you’re interested in BREAKING NEWS AUDIO, Bleacher Repot’s David Bixenspan, Chris Harrington (and Rich from Voicesofwrestling) just did a one-hour #wrestlenomics Radio show all about the WWE Network Subscription #s: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/indeedwrestling/2014/04/07/wrestlenomics-radio–wwe-network-subscribers-announced
Direct MP3 link: http://blogtalk.vo.llnwd.net/o23/show/6/297/show_6297327.mp3

READING MATERIAL:

* What Does 667,287 Subscribers Mean For WWE Network? by @mookieghana
* Biggest Takeaways from WWE Subscriber Numbers Announcement by @davidbix
* Nasdaq Dives as Investors Bolt for Value Stocks by Barrons

Somehow, someone finally woke up and started talking about how zany the stock pricing for $WWE was versus their fundamentals. I'll say it until the cows come home, while these WWE Network numbers aren't great, what matters most is the WWE Domestic TV Rights renewal.  I never expected WWE to make money on the WWE Network in 2014, so the fact it's off to an adequate (but realistic) start is fine. It's the TV rights that are completely impossible to pin down -- half of the media articles just reword WWE's talking points (WE ARE LIVE SPORTS~!) as if it's original commentary. They ignore the reality where advertisers don't spend good money to be in front of pro-wrestling fan eyeballs.  Once they can bridge that gap, we'll know what's really going on.  Until then, I'm sticking with my prediction of about 1.5x rights (~$159M domestic) and they stay on NBCU.

Friday, April 04, 2014

New Episode of Wrestlenomics Radio (4/5/14)


We'll be back LIVE tomorrow at 1 PM (EST) for a brand new edition of Wrestlenomics Radio with host Chris Harrington and guest Rich Kraetsch of Voices of Wrestling.

You can tune-in live at Blog Talk Radio!

Discussion will include:

Hope you can join us.