WWE held their fourth quarter earnings conference call today, with Linda McMahon answering questions from investors, here are some wrestling related notes from the call:
– A question was raised about having more “mixed brand” PPV events to make up for the low buyrates. The answer was a very strong, no, they are not considering mixing more PPV events. They are sticking to four mixed shows (Summerslam, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania). Linda said they are still “testing” their new PPV philosophy by adding two new PPV events (July and October), and those will be separate Raw and Smackdown events.
– They essentially avoided a question that the loss of talent has hurt the PPV buyrate for the May Smackdown PPV, Judgment Day. It was commented that it being a Smackdown event this year as opposed to a Raw event was a reason for it not doing as well compared to last year. By the same token, Vengeance next month will be a Raw event this year, it was a Smackdown show last year.
– The Raw contract with Spike TV expires in September 2005, and McMahon said there is “clear interest” by both sides in continuing the relationship. They admitted that ratings have dropped, but they are still in the weekly basic cable top ten, and often in the top three.
– They put over the Diva Search as being similar to “American Idol” or “America’s Top Model” and have high hopes for it to boost the ratings of Raw. The Diva Search will have it’s own special on July 15th on Spike TV as well.
– To go alongside the real Presidential Election, WWE will have an election in November on both Raw and Smackdown to name a storyline “WWE President” to oversee both brands.
– There are plans to add “Tough Enough segments” to Smackdown later this year, which will be used to develop new stars.
– There will be episodes of Raw and Smackdown done in the United Kingdom in October.
– WWE will be working with different “major studios” for their WWE Films projects. They have an action film and a horror film in the works.