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WWE Financials, Ratings, 
Rock/Bulldog Articles, and More
November 22, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Before everybody settles back to enjoy the weekend (last non-Holiday-season one of the year, actually), how about you let me regale you with a bit of rasslin' news and sundry opinions?  Good:
  • Unfortunately, the always-sparse weekend update is only going to be more so this time 'round...  I got a tape of last night's SmackDown!, but haven't gotten a chance to watch it, yet.  So right there, that's about a dozen paragraphs I'm not qualified to write today.
    I heard from a friend it was a good show, though: the usual good ring work from the SD! guys combined with some better-than-usual storytelling.  With Big Show as champ, that'll be a requirement:  they need to turn it up a few notches to keep things interesting, I say...
    Anyway, the overnight rating for last night's show came in at a 4.5 broadcast rating.  That's up a nearly insignificant one-tenth of a ratings point from last week's overnight.  And of course, adding to the insignificance:  the overnight number is subject to significant adjustment before a final rating is announced.
    We'll talk about that final number on Monday...
  • WWE has released figures about its second quarter (fiscal year) performance... for the three months ended on October 25, 2002, the Fed posted a net loss of $1.6 million on revenues of $92.8 million.  For the same period last year, the Fed reported a net income of $4.8 million on revenues of $98.2 million.
    Of note:
    Live event revenue increased 12% this quarter (as opposed to the same quarter last year), despite a decrease in overall attendance.  This quarter, the Fed produced 87 live events (including three international shows), drawing 458,000 paid; last year, there were 55 events (all domestic), which drew 472,000 paid.  A 15% increase in ticket prices, up to an average of $39, is how the Fed managed to increase revenues in this area.
    Pay-per-view revenue, however, declined by 14% for the quarter.  Despite the fact that PPV prices have gone up $5 per show, the losses are due to the fact that the absolute number of buys dropped to 1.1 million (from 1.5 million last year).
    Television rights fees and advertising revenue were impacted less dramatically.  Rights fees were up slightly from last year (mostly due to an "Executive Producer" fee paid to the Fed for the Rock's upcoming movie "Helldorado"), but ad revenues were down a bit.
    Merchandise revenue declined about 13% to $22.1 million.  Causes were primarily huge losses in licensing revenues (down $4 million) and a 32% drop in revenues from The World (formerly WWF New York).  Partially off-setting those losses was a 37% increase in WWE video sales, driven by a 9% increase in number of units sold combined with an increased emphasis on DVD sales (which have a higher wholesale price and accounted for 72% of WWE video sales).
    Also impacting WWE fiscal performance for this quarter: a $5.9 million charge due to the settlement of litigation with the William Morris Agency.
    I've tried to touch on the highlights of the financials that might be interesting to fans wondering how the company is making its money. But if you're an investor or otherwise interested, you can get the full report over at WWECorperate.com.
  • In addition to the release of financial data, the Fed also hosted a conference call for investors.  Linda McMahon presided over the call, as usual, and a couple of interesting tidbits were discussed...  The highlights:
    Litigation is on-going against the World Wildlife Fund; one must presume the Fed hasn't given up hope of bringing the F back...  SD!'s contract with UPN is up next fall, but WWE anticipates a renewal sooner, rather than later; the TNN/MTV shows are locked in through September 2005 (I'd have to assume that does NOT apply to Tough Enough, which has been getting renewed on a semi-annual basis)...  she said that perhaps six more months are needed before they can really assess the success of the Brand Extension; the original plan was to take 12-18 months to get the thing off the ground...  WWE Films will launch in 2003, and its first project will begin production next fall...  Linda said that WWE has been in contact with Steve Austin, but did not have any additional information about whether he'd be returning any time soon...  when asked, she downplayed the Stephanie/HHH relationship, saying that HHH was not using it to exert undue influence behind the scenes (though honestly, what would you expect her to say?  and what the hell kind of serious investor is obsessed with such questions, anyway?)...  
  • Speaking of Steve Austin, he made a public appearance yesterday in suburban Richmond, VA.  The appearance was at a Circuit City, and unfortunately had to be cut short due to a disturbance among the large crowd that had assembled.
    OO Reader CP Simmons was near the front of the line, and asked Austin the obvious question about whether he'd be back.  Austin replied that "We'll see... I need to do something!"  When CP replied that WWE needed him, Austin quipped back that "They need something."  Austin was apparently in really good spirits, interacting well with the fans, signing items and taking pictures for them.
    CP adds that the estimated crowd for Austin's appearance was 5000, but that only about 3000 of the fans got to make it to see Austin before a fight broke out in line, resulting in one arrest and the early end to the event.  The event was to benefit local boys and girls clubs, and although some fans wound up going home unhappy, it was not due in any part to Austin himself.
  • Some interesting articles in the media have been floating around the past couple days...
    First, I strongly encourage everyone to check out ESPN Magazine's article about "The British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith.  It does a great job of outlining the circumstances of Smith's too-soon death and the soap opera-ish interactions of the Hart family, all without unnecessarily dramatizing the events.
    The author of the article is Shaun Assael, who also wrote "Sex, Lies, and Headlocks."  He strikes the perfect tone of revealing enough "inside" information to humanize the subjects of the article without making it seem like a slimy expose.
    More than anything, I was struck by the sense that the wrestling business must really be an addiction: although it had left him a drug-addicted shell of his former self, Smith was fighting for one last run with the then-WWF till his death.  For an intelligent person to actively pursue something so self-destructive is baffling.  You're left with that odd mingling of anger, frustration, and pity that you might feel if you had to deal with a severely alcoholic friend or family member...
    Check out the article here.
  • The other pair of articles worth your trouble today are a bit more light-hearted in tone... they cover the Rock and his current work in Hawaii filming the movie that is currently untitled, but which was previously called "Helldorado."
    If you'd like to read more about the movie itself and the Rock's interactions with co-star Seann William Scott, check out this link.  If you'd like more of a focus on the Rock himself, his Hawaii homecoming, and even a little morsel of info about Hollywood's rumored resistance to the Rock ever going back to wrestling, check out this link.

  • If you read Scotty's recap of this week's TNA PPV, then you know that Vince Russo is back in an on-screen role.  He revealed himself as Mr. Wrestling III, and assisted Jeff Jarrett in winning the NWA Title.  
    For as easy as it would be to criticize Russo putting himself back on TV, the fact is he does have an established on-screen relationship with Jarrett dating back to WCW, so there is quite a bit of continuity here.  
    What I'm not so sure about are reports that there are backstage factions at TNA that are not happy about Russo's re-emergence as a major player.  His influence had been said to be on the decline (to the point that some were even reporting that he was gone from the company, which was patently false), but obviously, he's back in full force, now.
    Among those reportedly upset is Sean "SyxxPac" Waltman, who could be motivated to part ways with the company... which might have ripple effects extending to Scott Hall's standing with the company.  In my own damned opinion, though, it seems like this backstage drama is probably being way overplayed... perhaps even in an intentional attempt to garner fan interest in Russo' return to TV.
  • Some lingering ratings info from the past week...
    Last week's Tough Enough did a 1.3 rating, continuing the below-average (compared to past TE series) performance for the third installment of the show....  Velocity was up a bit, doing a 0.8, though Confidential remained down at a 0.6... and the pre-PPV Heat did a 0.9 for MTV.
  • I'm sorry I didn't hear about it sooner (in time to include it in my Wednesday column), but CNN had a five minute feature on Kaiju -- you remember, the thing where guys dressed up as Japanese-style Mega Monsters do a wrestling show -- that ran steadily during the morning and afternoon yesterday.
    Live event footage was shot last week at the Big Battel in NYC, and it looked like a packed house.  More than that, it looked like a frickin' blast.  The crowd was way into the campiness of the show, and they even had shots of some of the monster-suit-wearing workers hitting some big highspots.  Splashes off the top of a cage and stuff like that!
    Thanks to OO Reader and Kaiju Convert Josh Mauthe for spotting the CNN piece and e-mailing in time for me to see it.  And the rest of you, I guess you might scan CNN's website to see if they post the video of the piece... but you'd probably be better served dedicating a few minutes to Kaiju.com, which has a ton of cool, funny info.
  • I think that just about does it for me today.  Enjoy the weekend, folks...  I know I will, what with the official start of UD Flyers' basketball season, the debut of my killing-time-till-The-National-Drink-returns-from-hiatus Side Project (a risky proposition after only 3 practices!), the bottomless goblet of whiskey, and what not.  
    I guess I'm obligated to drag my sure-to-be-badly-hungover self out of bed early tomorrow and cheer for OSU against Michigan, too.  But, SHHHH!,  don't tell anyone:  I secretly couldn't give a rat's ass.
    See y'all again on Monday with RAW preview and other tidbits of info and editorlizing...


Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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