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New shows help boost WWE’s bottom line

But company still seeing revenue reduction overseas

The recent launch of new TV shows and expansion of WWE’s workhorse “Raw” is already boosting the company’s bottom line, with the WWE expecting the shows to help raise its financial results for the year by as much as 25%.

Despite the bright prospects, revenue fell to $104 million during the third quarter ended Sept. 30 from $108.5 million a year earlier, while net income fell to $3.5 million from $10.6 million.

The 4% reduction in revenues came mostly from outside North America, where fewer live events and weekly TV shows were produced and telecast.

“In the third quarter, we continued to make important progress on our key strategic initiatives, expanding our content and distribution and enhancing our brand strength,” said WWE chairman-CEO Vince McMahon. “The production and licensing of new programs, including a third hour of ‘Raw,’ the ‘WWE Main Event’ and ‘WWE Saturday Morning Slam’ (shows) as well as the development of online distribution on Hulu Plus exemplify our achievement of these goals. The performance of our new programs, which have attracted an average audience 14% to 50% higher than the viewership of the programs they replaced, demonstrate our ability to build consumer interest, which forms the foundation of our proposed WWE Network.”

WWE has spent $2.1 million on network-related operating expenses during the quarter.

WWE said average attendance at its live events rose 6% in North America during the quarter, while PPV buys were up 13%, thanks mostly to “SummerSlam.”

Film division WWE Studios generated $1.9 million in revenue, down from $3.7 million, with the theatrical release of “The Day” and “Barricade” and the DVD relaunch of “No Holds Barred” during the period. Earnings from “The Day,” distribbed by Anchor Bay, have not yet been calculated. Company’s film portfolio generated a loss of $.5 million compared to a loss of $1 million in the prior-year quarter.

WWE’s TV shows generated $34 million in both the current and prior year quarter. An additional hour of “Raw” on USA Network started July 23.

PPV revenue rose 3% to $16.3 million, thanks mostly to “SummerSlam,” which took place in Los Angeles. Buys for that event increased 21% over last year.

Homevid sales declined 23% to $6.4 million from price cuts per disc, although shipments increased 36% to 933,100 units. Lower sales of WWE videogames, with one fewer title in the market, caused licensing revenue to drop 21%, although THQ is releasing “WWE 13” this week. Royalties from the sale of toys, mostly through Mattel, increased 16%.

Elsewhere at the company, the WWE magazine earned $1.6 million, down from $1.9 million, while digital media generated $7.5 million, up 9%. The licensing of YouTube videos increased WWE.com revenues to $4.8 million from $3.7 million.

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