I'm not sure exactly when I outgrew watching wrestling on TV. But with this morning's announcement that World Wrestling Entertainment
Now, before you threaten to go all Stone Cold Steve Austin on me, let me lean over and slap a tag to the numbers that will help back my case. I'm not some aging fuddy-duddy who doesn't realize that there are people to take my place among the company's prized demographics. Yet if you go by WWE's quarterly report released earlier this week, I have to ask you where you've been hiding. OK?
The last nine months have seen earnings dip on flat revenue growth. Even though the company's third-quarter report showed some improvement, it masked some pretty worrisome trends.
Let's see. Pay-per-view revenues during the December quarter rose from $13.2 million to $15.5 million, yet that was because the company had three nationally broadcasted events as opposed to just two a year earlier. Then you go to the company's hands-on lifeblood, its live events, and the trend is grim. The company generated $11.3 million on 77 events this past quarter while it generated $11.8 million on just 74 events a year ago. Lower turnout and lower average ticket prices are not signs of a growing entertainment empire.
You can't blame the McMahon clan for trying. This year, WWE has taken its show on the road with promotional events at city malls to grow its waning audience. It's also looking to go Hollywood as a way to win over the multiplex popcorn munchers.
The company did grow its business in some areas, like home video sales and merchandising sales, this past quarter. It's not going down without a fight. Way too many people have had to eat crow over the years for calling wrestling a fad, so I won't make that mistake. WWE has defied its critics by staying afloat, and it's not going away anytime soon. Yet somewhere along the way -- maybe it was when the World Wrestling Federation became World Wrestling Entertainment -- this stopped being a growth stock.
WWE isn't your diversified entertainment empire like Disney
Until then, I have two words of advice for fans of the WWE these days: Show up.
Now grapple with some of these latest news nuggets:
- The league is hitting the road to drum up support.
- It's also turning to the big screen to play off its star power.
- The warning signs were in the previous quarter's report, too.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz isn't sure what his name would be if he ever did try to make it a go in wrestling, although Manly Milquetoast comes to mind. He does own shares in Disney. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.