WWE held its latest quarterly investor's call on Thursday, shedding some light on the success of WrestleMania 37 and the company's plans going forward as the COVID-19 pandemic slowly starts winding down. During the call chief financial officer Kristina Salen addressed the timetable for fans to return to the shows full-time, saying, "We look forward to the highly-anticapted return of regular ticketed events. How predicting the pace of that event is challenging and as of this moment we didn't anticipate seeing such events until the second half of 2021." This comment fits in with previous comments made in interviews by WWE officials.
Company president Nick Khan was later asked if he believed the return of live fans would see a boost in the ratings for both Monday Night Raw (which fell back below two million viewers this week) and Friday Night SmackDown. The caller referenced that the shows received a bump when the transition was made last August from the WWE Performance Center to the ThunderDome.
"... As it relates to live events that [the audience] always matters to us. Our fans are our fourth wall, if you will," Khan said. "We know immediately from them what's working and what's not working. The ThunderDome was a phenomenal creation by the creative team here, but to get live fans and to get our performers in front of them, we yearn for that as much as our performers do. And we think it's going to have a direct impact on all parts of our business in an overwhelmingly positive way."
Salen was later asked about what the plans for touring would be once WWE is able to have crowds again. She was not able to give exact details.
Eric Katz from Wolfe Research asks if WWE would hold a residency while phasing in touring. Is the return "full bore" or a phase-in.
Salen says WWE hasn't decided yet what their plans will be. Their hope is that they will return to full touring, not phase-in.— Brandon Thurston (@BrandonThurston) April 22, 2021
Salen adds that the current guidance assumes the return of full touring in the second-half of 2021.
David Karnovsky from JPMorgan brings up increase demand for live content. Will some sports like NFL or WWE disproportionately benefit?— Brandon Thurston (@BrandonThurston) April 22, 2021
WWE is reportedly planning on having live fans in attendance for SummerSlam 2021, tentatively scheduled for August.