Wednesday, January 10, 2018

George Barrios Q&A at Global TMT Conference in Las Vegas (Jan 9, 2018)

Chief Strategy & Financial Officer, George A. Barrios, will participate in a presentation at Citigroup’s 2018 TMT West Conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday, January 9, 2018.

George Barrios Transcript
types in the world behind only t-series
t-series is a Bollywood channel on YouTube
so number two of all channels number one in sports people ask me all the time and I heard kind of somebody chuckle when I talked about our success in India
they're like so I don't get it you know because this is so American this product
how could 75% of content be consumed outside the US and I was tell him and if they're an investor most of them didn't take any English classes in college
so I took a lot of math so I always tell them if you go back and take a literature course you'll read about Joseph Campbell


Joseph Campbell wrote the monomyth or the hero's journey about fifty years ago

and he was a he was a academic and he said if you look across every culture in the world the storytelling archetype is the same and he called it the monomyth the hero's journey a hero emerges a hero is has a dilemma a mentor emerges to help the here overcome dark forces a line against a hero

so I'm screwing it up I it's been 30 years since I took the course but if you by the monomyth of the hero's journey you see it and you go holy cow
John Cena's going through the hero's journey
like Katniss Everdeen is going through the hero's journey
like Luke Skywalker's going through the hero's journey
The difference is it's not intergalactic warfare it's not a dystopian future it's what's the other benefit for us our context is a ring one of the simplest things to understand around the world
whether you're in Mexico the Middle East in India Pakistan UK u.s.
you see a ring and you see people going into the ring
you know what's going to happen you know
what it's going to happen and it's important because why is you take a look


I'm a huge NFL fan
why does the NFL struggle in India there's nobody understands the game
I mean it's hard to watch in a five
well I've been watching the NFL with my three daughters
for you know 18 years and 13 years with my twins
they don't really understand the NFL game that much
they kind understand basketball
they get soccer free-flowing sport and tough to understand and
it's similar wise cricket not made it in the US
crickets another game it's pretty difficult to understand
so we've got the commonality of the hero's journey
That storytelling element and then we have we're lucky
it's a ring it's easy to understand
so that's why the WWE content plays around the world
and we've been doing it for a long time you know it's now going on 40 years
the 35 years since Vince bought the company from his father
and so whether it's Bruno Sammartino then to Andre the Giant then to Stone Cold Steve Austin then to the Rock and then to Charlotte who is our Women's Champion
you know we've been able to create this pipeline of great talent to keep the story alive generation after generation


so next topic I want to touch on is this transformation that Jason
managed and if you look at the history of the company you know Vince bought if I went back before 99 but it was a northeast touring company just selling tickets the next version of the business was 19 1999 to 2010 so it's a media model media business he turned it from a ticketing business to a media business 360 degrees then an 11 for 14 is where we say it was the pivot that Jason mentioned he said
boy I was really I admire what the team has done that pivot
I will tell you during that time frame we were getting no admiration
Nobody understood why social was important
nobody understood why we were launched our own direct to consumer network and cannibalize a very profitable business but all of that is what's led to the company as it sits here today this new model that we're in the early days of I mean really was starting an early 15 that you started seeing the manifestation of that work in 11 through 14 and just a couple of examples of the change in 2010 about 478 million dollars in revenue 10% of the revenue was coming
on a digital channel whether it was selling a product on a digital channel selling advertising or a subscription trailing 12 months now 60% revenue growth and over a third roughly is on a digital channel primarily are directed not primarily but the biggest part of that right the consumer business and then similar there's an overlap here between digital and direct to consumer but it's not a perfect it's not one-to-one in 2010 about a quarter of our revenues were direct to consumer where we would actually interact with the consumer in some way as opposed to going through a third party you know like a life when I sell a toy I'm going through Mattel
that's a third party when somebody watches we're on Smackdown I've licensed that content to a network I'll talk about that it's a third party now we sell product directly we deliver video directly so today about half the business is direct the consumer which underpins a lot of our data strategy and I'll talk about that in a little bit as well but that that is the manifestation of the change we're talking about I talked about the 1500 hours we create and  I was to say if you're going to understand anything and invest in WWE you should I think you should understand this because your perspective on this is going to inform whether you think it's something you want to be part of the ride on or not so those 1500 hours that we create we this the biggest decision we make today that was not a decision we had to make eight or nine years ago because these platforms these other platforms didn't exist it's where do we put these hours what are we trying to accomplish with the content we're creating new fans female fans kids engage current fans super serve our hardcore fans so there's a variety of things we're trying to accomplish where to put it the three places we do it pay TV
so today our most valuable content in terms of engagement and monetization sits in the pay TV
bundle we create five hours of live event content Monday nights and Tuesday nights in an arena around the world 260 hours of original live content a year and we license that into the pay TV ecosystem NBCU in the US / Rogers in Canada / bskyb in the UK / Sony and India / Fox in Latin America / OSN in the Middle East that's that's where our most valuable content sits and remember of that five to six billion hours of consumption about 75 80 % of it is still Raw & Smackdown because it's our most valuable content secondary I mentioned we now up to 550 million hours consumed primarily on YouTube Facebook growing quite a bit but primarily on YouTube we've created 42,000 short form pieces of content had over 18 billion video views across all platforms over the last 12 months
1.2 billion social media engagements
825 million so what's on that short form clips of the long form as well as unique content that we create just for those platforms


we just announced today with next VR that we're doing six shows in 2018 about 10 minutes each on their platform available on all the on the various headsets


that's an example we just announced a exclusive live show with Facebook mixed match challenge
right so we're doing exclusive shows on these platforms for certain reasons to go deeper the next generation of fans we know they're coming on these platform values


I've got three kids three girls they haven't turned to cable boxing on in a long time when they go watch video it's either chromecast Apple TV and it's either YouTube for lean forward or Netflix and Hulu for lean back 
That's what goes there and then finally our direct to consumer network it's now the number two branded svod service in the world so but now not an aggregator like Netflix or Hulu they're aggregating we're branded single brands so the largest is baseball WWE’s the second large is a million and a half subscribers paying $10 a month so this product is for a small sliver of our fan base you're getting Raw and SmackDown on pay TV you're experiencing it and a bunch of other type of content we're creating on YouTube and Facebook if you're a super WWE fan you get our playoffs our Super Bowl is their WrestleMania you get new content we create with done reality series animated series using our IP and then you have the long tail you now have a 10,000 hour video archive growing every day where you can experience every piece of content WWE’s ever released including every raw and smackdown that's ever been done eventually makes its way onto the network so to super serve our most passionate fans that's what we do with WWE Network so now as we look to the future there are some key trans if you're involved in media we're all aware of it live content is becoming even more valuable within the bundle because it's the reason that people still want the bundle direct-to-consumer is becoming a bigger and bigger habit people are getting everyday get a little bit more comfortable going direct to consumer whether it's for software for video for music the next generation is finding its way to engage with brands on the social and digital platforms we see 


that we see think that accelerates in in a country like India is the next billion users come on primarily on mobile broadband every day gets a little bit stronger more bandwidth as well as the penetration grows social platforms have become a video destination obviously YouTube as created that world Facebook wants to fast follow and then the growth of the middle class in emerging markets for us specifically our popularity in India and what's happening macro economically and India is a real opportunity we think so we've got these core businesses that are doing very well today and we think the key growth drivers are continue to drive monetization our premium content close the monetization engagement gap internationally remember 25 percent of our revenues come from outside the US but 75 percent of our video engagement that's where that growing middle class we think makes a difference over time and that continue to utilize data to drive this 360 degree business mom a very different way people have talked to us what kind of what's the scale of the fan base we've done primary research in our top 16 markets about 311 million broadband homes about half of them have someone in the home with some WWE affinity and obviously there's an avidity scale 160 million there's a hardcore aspirational hardcore light casual a fan parent elapsed fan so there's an ability there but the point being there's scale to the brand I talked about our direct to consumer network we launched in 14 it's amazing to be sitting here today that we're coming up on the four year anniversary it has been a blur and as I mentioned about one-and-a-half million subscribers paying $10 a month about 25% of those subs outside the US


it's a u.s. product should have mentioned that before right it's English language US dollar currency we haven't localized it yet we made it available around the world


so we got 25% of our subs are coming from outside the US we think the opportunity to grow bigger internationally with the network is actually to localize the product which is something that's on our roadmap I mentioned our top seven agreements licensing of Raw and SmackDown primarily Raw & Smackdown the last time we went through this renewal cycle in the last year of the old agreements we were about 130 million we renegotiate him here's our top seven in 2015 you saw a step up of about 30% and then you've seen about 10% escalators on average across across the the basket of the seven so it's been a big driver in the revenue and profit growth over the last three years for WWE as we look to the future we said we have these deals we have several deals expiring starting Jan 1 19 through early 2020 in fact most of our content agreements will expire during that timeframe and so therefore we have the opportunity to renew or go direct to consumer do so you know decide what the distribution strategy is in these markets the US which is the largest content deal we have expires in q3 of 2019 we've said given the way the contract is structured that we believe will make an announcement sometime between May and September of this year we sell people that's our best educated guess on the timing it could be before it could be after but based on our the way the contract is structured our best estimate is made of September UK in India our second and third largest deals similar in size the UK deal expires at the end of nineteen we think we'll announce our distribution strategy in the UK in the second half of 18 and then finally India also expires at the end of 19 we think we'll announce our distribution strategy in India for run smackdown in the first half of 19 so obviously you need to have a perspective on what you think the value of live content is around the world these three markets especially and w's performance in those markets and as I tell people all that data is public so you can go access it yourself see how we're doing see how competitors are doing and and come to a perspective on the valley of Raw & Smackdown the other growth driver as I mentioned


International has been a great success story it's growing about a 9% CAGR for 13 years of the business is tripled since 2004 that mismatch on the 75% engagement 25% monetization we think that's a longtail win for us some of it under our control things like localizing more of our content whether it's direct and consumer or social and digital more languages for example so in our control we also think there's just some exhaust factor some tailwind macroeconomic tailwind in developing markets that as long as we do the hard work of continuing engage fans should be to our benefit now


I'm going to pivot to data at WWE roughly we have about 10 million user accounts that we've been focused on creating over the last seven years or so and for all these companies and folks are talking to other companies who are making this direct-to-consumer pivot should be one of the questions you ask is how many user accounts have you got because a lot of folks are really starting from zero almost the large companies so what do we know about these 10 million well it depends we don't know everything about all 10 million but in the aggregate

I've got about 400 different ways I look at consumption our direct-to-consumer know work what genre what device past payment behaviors are you more comfortable with credit card debit card when do you pay how are you interacting when we communicate with you through emails or push notifications demographics credit lifestyle data we're able to overlay third party data against our own data to understand at the consumer level at the person level what platforms you use what screen sizes you visit an event what ticket price did you pay where did you sit what products are you buying directly from us so what does that do


well let's take an example we've got thousands of variables this particular case favorite network star is AJ Styles you've made six payments on the network you've purchased four tickets in the last year if you on our website you've had a hundred sessions and you've bought 30 items today you will get messaging personalized to what you've bought and who your favorite stars are you bought those four tickets average price of one hundred and fifty dollars well did you know that as a network subscribers this is what you get so tailored to your behavior on WWE Network and through our ticketing platform 30 I thirty eight items person purchased a date we know you're a high LTV customer will you'll give a special promotion just for you helps us think about what content to create one of the things that shocked even us when we launched the network is how much in ring content people were watching they already have five hours live raw smackdown on every every week will those hardcore fans wanted more live


so you've seen the united the UK championship we never done that before there's a local championship non WWE talent that we've produced in the UK did great on the network the mae young classic similar find the next batch of female WWE stars we created a series on the network 205 live for cruiserweights under 205 pound athletes very different than what you would see on Raw and SmackDown when we launched NXT and moved up from just being a development brand to a touring brand we used the viewership data in the United States that we had on the network people who are watching NXT to figure out how should we start touring the next a lot of what we just saw five six seven eight years ago on the marketing side everyone would have gotten one message on the decision-making side it would have been instinct and intuition of smart people fundamentally the the the ability to capture and act on data is fundamentally transit transforming WWE from the inside out so we are doing those things that I just mentioned what we can't do yet is do all of that at scale on an automated basis across every single account that's all continuing to build out you know so it's a two-year roadmap or so what started out as a five-year about three years in I always say it's conceptually not difficult to do but it's laborious so it's time and effort so when you hear management talk about investing in content in global footprint and our global operations and in data and technology that data and technology it's that then on the financial outlook if you look over the last three years including trailing twelve months you've seen steady revenue growth you've been operating income growth and adjust it with the growth if you want to understand the business model you have this solid base of predictable revenue our live event business our consumer products business you have what we believe are the high growth revenue streams I talked about live content delivered pay TV bundle we think or bundled by someone else but delivered through a partnership or directed consumer or a vaad it's a high variable margin business so we need to understand the difference between variable margin gross margin and operating margin sometimes people conflate those things unit economics are important we have very high unit economics we have high fixed costs with very high unit economics and then we said we're going to continue to invest in three things we're going to create more content we're gonna drive more globe globalization that could mean globalizing the content or localizing the kind of more people on the ground in these markets and we're gonna continue invest in data technology

for 2017 we started the year saying we'd expect to achieve record revenues trailing 12 months we're at 784 will deliver record revenues started there year saying adjusted a width of about a hundred million on the call we raise that to 108 112 million and we said we'd hit another year of record subscribers looking for 2018 we expect another year of record revenues be our fifth year in a row record adjusted OIBDA of 115 million and
people have asked well  that's not a lot of growth from 17 it's true on an adjusted basis to that investment level we're gonna keep putting in investing back into the business and then record subscriber levels that all stop when you say use the same people you mean in terms of but what people I don't oh yeah yeah got it yep we haven't changed it so for the actual infrastructure has been built on an AWS we do some things on Azure and Google cloud but on the data engineering side primarily AWS on and we have external support on that company called cognizant supports that effort on the data engineering side on the data and analytics side so not the building of the of the technology but the usage of the data and the proper khamel gating of the data internally we have an internal team there's probably five people you know six seven years ago it's 40 today half of it onshore WWF T's about half of it offshore and we use Excel kind of as a BPO model for the DEA side but it's significantly larger than it was and and on the you know I always say on the infrastructure side what you know whether it's Amazon Google Microsoft on the tools side they're all good and so they're trade-offs that you have to make but we find them there's a lot of choice for us look I mean Amazon is fairly vocal and if you're a customer you know that on their ability to drive price down so on a per unit basis the price has been the pricing has been to our benefit obviously we use and create a lot more data today but yet cost has not been an issue there other than the cost that we have to invest in people because we want to go faster we want to get to work what


I said faster which is the debate we have internally and I always say the network a couple of things it's our second largest business our second most profitable business has great unit economics so we have taken what was a secularly declining pay-per-view business and what you would argue is probably anachronistic or becoming anachronistic and turned it into kind of art one of our jewels both from a strategic standpoint and financial so financial I just mentioned strategic the core of that data universe is WWE Network because that's where we get the most information about what you like as a fan for our most valuable fans so it's really really important strategically if we're gonna continue this direct-to-consumer journey the network becomes incredibly important if you said to me Jason you know intermediate-term two three years from now what makes that number grow


I think it's two things that are on our roadmap  number one is that localization I think in 2020 if we're sitting here but network would probably be available in at least one other language around the world and people ask well you know what language is it look the leaders in the clubhouse if you think of WWE Spanish seemed interesting potentially hindi people have speculated about Germany because they assume they're correct that Germany is a great market for us for the network but I think localization generally


and the second element which we've talked about we think there's a unique opportunity to create kind of a super version of the network you know and we people call it tearing you know tearing the the network if you think about all the different ways we are touching our consumers imagine a day when a network subscriber or subset of network subscribers can get their tickets before anyone else can get free shipping on product things like that we touch our fans in so many different ways we think there's a way to create value there for them and for us so the tearing of the product both on the upper and you know a premium version if you will of the network and potentially even on the lower end where you create a place that has a little bit less friction in terms of usage to get more people involved which then creates kind of a natural funnel it's what Spotify does with their free tier versus their pager so I think intermediate to long term those are the things that bend the curve I think between now and and then it's utilizing the data better and better to drive both acquisition and retention but yeah

I mean I always tell people just to be clear regardless of what the sub growth isn't in particular quarter our perspective you know just so you know what our internal perspective is this has been a incredible success and it's the underpinning for where we think the world is going over the next 10 years or So that's right it would be a first that's right and which is well people have asked I've been I've been getting questions about this topic almost since we launched and one of the things that we've said all along as you have to be careful on doing what we just talked about trying to segment the demand curve if you make a mistake you know you risk doing significant damage to the business so we've been thoughtful some people think we've been overly thoughtful there people have said you guys are taking too long I got ityou know we're the ones closest to it we've decided to play it very slow that's right yeah


so the product today doesn't work in India for a couple of reasons yes so the question was well

obviously international is a way to accelerate this because in a country like India a 999 price point won't work actually the product in India doesn't work for variety reasons the price point it's only available in English and if you look at our rights we actually today license the pay-per-views which is a big part of the value proposition the network to our pay TV partner Sony so even from a value proposition perspective doesn't work it's available there people want the great on-demand capabilities you can do it but it's not a product tailor there

but that's why I mentioned to Jason I think when you look out to three years from now if we're able to accelerate the growth I think doing something with what you just said localizing the product is it could be a big part of that it's very it is difficult there's nothing there's I don't think I'm gonna tell you anything that you probably haven't thought of already I mean what we do is we just survey the marketplace and we look at all types of content we looked at scripted content we look at live content or content that's creating live viewership and then we say well what are people paying for that and then do some math around then say well that's at least an indicator of what you think you're worth now I will tell you having done that math historically the fact of the matter is Raw & Smackdown in the United States has been undervalued relative to that type of analysis there's no doubt about I mean people always add when people asked about WWE you know we don't have a valuation problem we certainly don't have a brand problem we have a monetization problem you know we have not monetized the brand especially Raw & Smackdown in the United States relative to its performance and you could argue well why is that and people you know and there's a bunch of theories and they're all unprovable so I think all I could tell you is that's the math that we do to try to get a sense of when we sit down with folks so we can communicate what we think the value is ultimately the valley is going to be determined by the marketplace how much interest there is how much competitive juices are there aren't that whether people see the content through the same lens we do I will tell you from a pay TV perspective and this is again it real important the things that drive these big economics to content or rights owners is if you believe the content it drives distribution if it's only ad supported no piece of content makes a lot of money the ones didn't get paid is because the buyer says that piece of content given its scale of viewership and where it positions me and the leader tables helps me drive affiliate feeds up helps me today stay in the bundle which was not a risk before that's that's what you've got it will sir you got to have a perspective this

yeah I remember being at CES probably 2012 or so and people were talking about OTT distribution you know it was still early and you know a couple of small little channels and don't but there was nothing really a scale and I remember myself and Michelle one of my colleagues out here talking about because we were already thinking about the network and we were gathering intelligence of what we would do if and when the time came for us I think VR and AR is if we're in the same place as you know OTT in 2011 which is some form of it is coming and we're in that experimentation stage and the partnership we announced with nextVR today we think is you know I've seen it I did a little interview on cheddar today you know I've seen the content it's amazing I mean if you are a fan of WWE to put that on and find yourself in the content it is amazing so I use Google daydream view I think it's 99 bucks well worth the investment and when when next we are when our shows come out I would say get it it's really missing but that's where we are we're experimenting because five years from now my guess is probably under act on our network you'll see some element of that yeah we've done VR we did something with the Samsung back at SummerSlam a couple of years ago everybody does it loves it I think it's the ubiquity of the usage you know it's growing but it's still relatively small but if you put it on and do it you think it's you think it's amazing and the same thing on a our which probably internally we we're more interested in we think that has some unique applications but we again we're and you'll probably hear us announce something within the next 12 months on AR as well we're in that experimentation stage but it's all about engaging our superfans right I mean that really ultimately is what it is right thanks for having us

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