WWE aims for PPV knockout with WrestleMania

Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:22am EDT
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By Georg Szalai

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - The Super Bowl is done, the Oscars have been handed out. Now World Wrestling Entertainment is gearing up for its signature event: WrestleMania.

It may not be the enormous moneymaker the Super Bowl is, but the annual main event in pro wrestling has brought WWE and its host city good returns in recent years. The granddaddy of wrestling pay-per-view events has created revenue of more than $30 million for WWE in each of the past three years. Total company revenue for 2009 amounted to $475 million.

Its 26th edition takes place March 28 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, after a slew of related weekend events.

In last year's second quarter, WrestleMania generated about $8.4 million in live-event revenue and $21 million in PPV sales thanks to nearly 1 million buys, which helped lay the groundwork for a WrestleMania revenue contribution of $32.2 million. That compares with the $68 million-$81 million in annual ad revenue recorded for the Academy Awards telecast for the 2007-09 time frame and the $154 million-$213 million annual ad haul during the same three-year period for the Super Bowl, according to Kantar Media.

Meanwhile, WrestleMania's bottom-line contribution has fluctuated more, with profits ranging from $7.1 million to more than twice that in recent years. The company succeeded in improving the profit contribution since a weaker 2008 result.

"We don't give specific guidance every year, but we have said we weren't happy with the 2008 numbers," WWE chief financial officer George Barrios said.

What are his expectations for this year's event? "Most important is that the show is compelling to the audience, and things will be a bit different every year depending where we are, etc.," Barrios said. "But we know it won't be like 2008. We feel pretty good about the numbers.

REAPING PROFIT   Continued...

<p>WWE Hall of Fame Wrestler Ric "Nature Boy" Flair speaks during a press conference for the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania in New York March 31, 2009. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid</p>