This is a transcript of the conference call where the XFL closure was explained to the media.
Moderator: Vince McMahon
May 10, 2001
Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the NBC and World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. conference call. During the presentation all participants will be in a listen-only mode. Afterwards you will be invited to participate in the question-and-answer session. At that time if you have a question you will need to press the one followed by the four on your telephone. As a reminder this conference is being recorded Thursday, May 10, 2001. I would now like to turn the conference over to Mr. Gary Davis, Vice President, Corporate Communications with World Wrestling Federation. Please go ahead sir.
Gary Davis: Thank you. And thank you everybody for joining us I know on short notice. By now you have probably received the news release that was issued, or the news releases that have been issued, by both www.entertainment and NBC about the discontinuation of the XFL. Joining us on the call today are Vince McMahon, Chairman of World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Dick Ebersoll, Chairman of NBC Sports and Olympics, Bazil Devito [sp], President of the XFL. And they’re here to answer any questions you may have, but first I’m going to turn it over to Vince, Dick and Basil if they’d like to make a few short remarks and then we’ll go to the Q&A.
Vince McMahon: Dick, do you want to start?
Dick Ebersoll: No, go ahead Vince.
V. McMahon: I would just like to say that this has been a wonderful experience for the World Wrestling Federation Entertainment speaking on behalf of us. You don’t often have the ability, and it is to be applauded in this wonderful country we live in, to be able to take a calculated risk. Some of them pay off. Some of them don’t. This one didn’t. But nonetheless I don’t regret for one moment attempting this, especially considering NBC and Dick with us all the way through this. It was a wonderful experience and hopefully we brought a great deal of entertainment to football fans.
D. Ebersoll: I just want to say that strange as it may seem to many of you listening in on this phone call, that this was one of the most fun experiences of my life. In some of the darkest days it was a pleasure to work with all the people, the talent, the couches, and most of all Vince. I don’t know how to thank Vince. NBC’s enjoyed a lot of partnerships through the years but Id be challenged to find a more decent, trusting, or accommodating partner and friend than Vince McMahon.
Basil Devito: The only thing I can add is that our sincere thanks to the 400 players who gave more than we could have ever asked and played every down of every game, and they did it not just for the money, and in the end we were pretty satisfied with the level of play and we really appreciate what the players gave and the fans that supported us. In the end it was all about the fans and there are a million out there that I think enjoyed what we did and we thank them for the opportunity.
G. Davis: So now we’re ready for questions and answers.
Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to register a question for today’s question-and-answer session you will need to press the one followed by the four on your telephone. You will hear a three-tone prompt to acknowledge your request. If your question has been answered and you wish to withdraw your polling request you may do so by pressing the one followed by the three. If you are on a speaker phone please pick up your handset before entering your request. Also please limit yourself to one question.
The first question comes from Larry Sewart from the Los Angeles Times. Please go ahead with your question.
Larry Sewart: Yeah, I guess start with Vance. Just what were the key factors in deciding not to try it for another year? I know a lot of time we talked that you indicated that you did want to try it for another year.
V. McMahon: Yeah. It’s really unfortunate that the numbers actually didn’t play out for us, but you know we had hoped that in our models and even going from eight teams perhaps down to six teams before we expanded back to ten, and we had so many different models to try and make this work, and despite where our heart was which was unquestionably with the passion of the XFL, we just couldn’t make it work from a financial standpoint going forward without everything that should be lined up. That’s a fact.
Operator: The next question comes from Jim Gintinio from Arizona Republic. Please go ahead with your question.
Jim Gintinio: Yeah, thanks. Vince, I said a critical week one. Your expectations really had to be huge at that point. When did you realize that the league was not [unintelligible].
V. McMahon: When did I realize the league was not what again?
J. Gintinio: A great week one. When did you realize that the league was probably not going to make it to a second season?
V. McMahon: I didn’t come to that realization until I guess maybe about four hours ago at the most.
J. Gintinio: Thank you.
V. McMahon: And you may think that’s laughable, but it gives you some idea as to how many combinations and permutations and everything else that we came up with to try and make this work. I mean again, from bottom line we are in business like everyone else, despite my passion for everything that we do. We tried to figure every conceivable way of trying to make this work and it wasn’t until about six hours ago that we finally came to the logical business hard, cold decision this was not going to work.
J. Gintinio: Thank you.
Operator: The next question comes from Evan Grossman with the New York Post. Please go ahead with your question.
Evan Grossman: Have you talked to the individual teams or team management about the decision or was it just done in one broad stroke with the media and the league?
B. Devito: In keeping with our responsibilities to our shareholders and the business requirements, we were able to do those things simultaneously. We have spoken to the management of all of our local teams. I personally was able to reach out to not only multiple head couches as well as some of our marquee players. We also had an opportunity to reach out to every employee in the XFL, again all simultaneous, with the types of announcements that are required of a public company. So it was difficult. I’m sure there were a person or two we weren’t able to get to, but we did the best we could in both a professional and a compassionate way.
Operator: The next question comes from Rudy Martzke with USA Today. Please go ahead with your question.
Rudy Martzke: Yeah. This is for Dick Ebersoll. Dick, when did you also figure that this league maybe wouldn’t make it or that NBC would probably have to pull out, and how disappointed are you in the fact that you couldn’t make this work?
D. Ebersoll: I think there’s nothing that all of us would have liked to have seen more than a successful launch of this . It was a risk that we all thought was a smart one, given the fact that the ownership of a successful new league today would provide a great insurance policy against the wildly escalating TV rights scene. I think from a prime time standpoint, we knew it wasn’t going to work from early March on. We here at NBC tried a lot of different possibilities to see if we could find a way to have daytime coverage of the league going forward and we tried a ton of permutations in March and April. But our commitments next year to the Winter Olympics in February, the NBA, and the Professional Golf Tour through March and April made it impossible for us to come up with a situation. In fact that’s one of the major reasons that the league was a prime time thing for us. We did not have sports time available to it when we launched, and we also felt strongly that Saturday night had become the least successful night in television and this was a great opportunity for us to get into a time period where nothing had worked for a long time. And the launch worked. The people were there, and we didn’t answer their expectations I guess.
R. Martzke: OK.
Operator: The next question comes from Richard Sandomir with the New York Times. Please go ahead with your question.
Richard Sandomir: Yeah. Vince, we’ve talked about how important it was for you to stay on broadcast TV and specifically without NBC-UPN. Was today the day that UPN told you they didn’t want you any longer?
V. McMahon: In discussions with UPN, which we had hoped that we would wind up with UPN and a cable, most likely TNN, in discussions with them those discussions broke down over of all things the deal. So we were unable to come to a satisfactory deal with UPN, and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
R. Sandomir: And did that happen today?
V. McMahon: Yes it did. As I said- you probably couldn’t hear me Richard- we made this decision about four hours ago.
R. Sandomir: OK. OK. And if they had said yes you would have continued?
V. McMahon: I’m not certain, but again it’s a point in which you- it’s a domino theory. You know, or even let’s say it’s a galaxy theory. All the stars have to be lined up for this to go forward, and the broadcast component was the most important one. We had had hopes that everyone would look at it as we, WBFE [sp], were looking at it in terms of a brand-building business, but ultimately I guess it came down to a programming decision and again, our difference of opinion is to what the deal should be going forward.
R. Sandomir: I see.
Operator: The next question comes from John Dempsey with Variety. Please go ahead with your question.
John Dempsey: Yeah Vince. Did you talk to the WB Vince as a possible replacement for UPN on Sunday afternoons?
V. McMahon: No. That was a suggestion that we might talk with WB, and at one time it was a suggestion couched in only the fact that they were two networks that would be possible to have the availability of time, one being UPN and the other being WB. But we had no conversation with WB.
J. Dempsey: OK. Thank you.
Operator: The next question comes from Joe Flint with the Wall St. Journal. Please go ahead with your question.
Joe Flint: Yeah. Vince, just curious. I don’t know how specific you can get, but with UPN what was their main issue or their main hang-up with bringing the league back, and does any of this impact at all your relationship with them on other shows such as Smack Down?
V. McMahon: It does not impact at all on Smack Down or any other programming we’ll be providing UPN, not at all. It really came down to a deal point situation and we couldn’t go forward. That’s all.
Operator: The next question comes from Ed Sherman with Chicago Tribune. Please go ahead with your question.
Ed Sherman: Dick, what’s your assessment? Why didn’t this thing work, especially after the launch?
D. Ebersoll: You know Ed, I’d say, more than anything else, time. I think in retrospect, if we’d more time we certainly could have probably from an offensive standpoint had a more consistent product, although there are those who would say that when you look at the first weekend, three of the four games that were played were incredibly competitive and the big national game which was the center of the launch was a 19 to nothing shutout and not a very attractive game to look at. But all in all I’d say you could come up with a million little things but time is probably the largest Ed.
Operator: The next question comes from Jerry McGee with the San Diego Union
Please go ahead with your question.
Jerry McGee: For either Dick or Mr. McMahon. Do you fellows think that any spring-summer league can ever be successful in a sports community as dominant as the NFL is?
Man: Well Jerry, I’d have to say despite the evidence of the last few months that football’s clearly the number one sport in America today. As one person consistently said to me leading up to this that the shape of the ball makes you guys candidates for a great success. I think that the first week showed that there was an appetite and we just didn’t answer it in a way that the public wanted us to. But yeah, I do think it- and you know, we jumped into this idea in a big way for two reasons. V. McMahon, who I think is the best marketer and promoter to young men in this country today, and the other reason was that I thought that there was a real appetite for football on a year round basis. First week showed there was. Just bottom line we didn’t deliver what they wanted to see, ’cause they came and they just didn’t come back.
Operator: The next question comes from Stefan Fatsis with The Wall Street Journal. Please go ahead with your question.
Stefan Fatsis: Dick or Vince, I’m curious as to the one thing that seems to have really failed here which is also that you talked about the XFL being a way to skirt the ever increasing rights factor in pro sports. You tried to do it on your own. It didn’t succeed. Does that make you pessimistic about the market for other leagues and the ability of networks and others to circumvent the ever-increasing season?
D. Ebersoll: I guess I should answer that. You know, it’s a very tough world today, this sports television world stuff, and there’s really few if any rights deals left that aren’t made at the very best at break even. And considering the economy that all media companies are in today, not only television, it’s tougher and tougher to take on these huge rights things. And Vince and Basil came up with a really, really good financial model for going forward, and I think you have to point to our execution of the idea as being the biggest factor. I put it in terms of time, but I would still think that some day somebody’s going to pull this together. If I had to do it all over again, and I think Basil and Vince would agree, more time would probably be the first thing on our list.
Operator: The next question comes from Michelle Greppi with the Electronic Media. Please go ahead with your question.
Michelle Greppi: Sorry to be beating the UPN angle, but who called or how did they notify you and what did they actually say and when had been your last previous conversation prior to that?
B. Devito: Michelle this is Basil.
M. Greppi: Hi.
B. Devito: What we’re talking about here is an overall assessment of a business that concluded our year-end on April 30th. So there’s not necessarily a single call or one piece of information that lead us to where we are.
– last night and obviously, you know off the cuff at a cocktail party is not a time where I can try to expound on the many, many hours of discussion and work both internally here and with our potential partners. So I had those conversations but none of them- I can’t point you to one specific time or place because we’ve been in business together for the last year, and when you’re in business together with partners you’re working all the time.
D. Ebersoll: Michelle, I’d like to point out that Vince and Basil are together in Stanford having these cocktails. I don’t have anything in front of me.
Man: Just for the record, I don’t drink except protein drink.
Man: That was last night at the WW Up Front.
Man: Next question please.
Operator: The next question comes from Bob Raissman with the New York Daily News. Please go ahead with your question.
Bob Raissman: Vince, how much of what happened early on would you attribute to the expectations people had of you or what they thought of you or what they thought you were going to do or wouldn’t do?
V. McMahon: Geez Bob, I don’t know. I don’t know that I can- you know, I have questioned myself on that but I don’t know that I have that answer. Again I think that the buck stops with me principally. I think that NBC had a great deal of faith in not only their abilities which are extraordinary, but they had a great deal of faith in me and my organization being able to field literally this XFL in a timely fashion, and I think we let NBC down in terms of holding up to our end of the deal. Try as we might- again, that’s one of the things that Dick alluded to in terms of time.
Had we had more time, we may have been able to do things a little differently, and that goes with the expectations of what certain people were thinking about what the WVF would do in the sporting world, or I should say the football world, and I think that we didn’t enough time or take the amount of time as well– at least I can say that personally- to be able to discuss with the media on an individual basis what to expect. It’s one thing to build tension and excitement and anticipation to the public. It’s quite another to speak directly with the media on a one-on-one basis as much as we can, and I think that was another failing on my part, you know in not going straight to the media to tell you guys exactly what this was. This was football. It always was going to be football. You know, we were going to entertain you. Our promos were going to be entertaining and things of that nature in terms of the sizzle, but the steak was always going to be about football, and I think there was some misunderstanding from the media. Some of it worked to our favor. Some of it didn’t. So I don’t know that I necessarily have that answer Bob.
B. Raissman: OK.
Man: [unintelligible] Bob. Vince as always is being more than gracious. I think a few more weeks would have also helped us on the television side to be ready with the complexity of doing football this way with 26 mics, with flying cameras, with cameras on the field. When I say more time I’m not just alluding to the football side of this operation. We could have used a little bit more time, particularly since the vast majority of the top people doing football today were not available to us, and we had intensive rehearsals not only of the television side but we had scrimmages in January. Both sides could have used two or three more weeks in retrospect.
Operator: The next question comes from David Barron from the Houston Chronicle. Please go ahead with your question.
David Barron: That you were able to succeed in wrestling by sort of changing the way that the business was played out, the way that the event was played out on television, is football the sort of sport that could be changed or could be altered to, do you think, to appeal to the same demographic that watches WWF entertainment shows?
V. McMahon: Well you know, our demographics and research show that there’s a good chunk of both football fans who watch WWF and conversely, but I think in terms of the innovations, you know, that NBC and WWE brought to the game, I would suggest that you’re going to see some of those in the NFL, or if not, certainly it won’t be because of the networks not trying, those who were producing, because I think that again, part of our whole imprimatur here was to bring the game closer to the fan, to show you the huddle call and players having frank discussions with other players and coaches, and things of that nature, which we did. We brought you from a fan’s standpoint inside the game. And that was important. That was what we tried to do. So I mean I think that we did a lot of that. We did a lot of fan interaction. It was the most fan friendly league I think that there ever has been, and that was one of our goals as well. I think we succeeded in a lot of areas, but obviously failed in others.
Man: I also think Vince that one of the most interesting things about the league in my mind, one player was the personification of the league, and it’s a shame that the public didn’t really see it except for the people in the stands, and that’s Tommy Maddux. He’s a guy who had bounced around a few NFL teams and [momentary audio break] this team all the way through to the championship, but if someone had watched the totality of the games, the first week the game happened to be on TNN in the afternoon, but he coached his team to an almost win. The next week we had this incredible double sudden death, the first time in the history of the game that you had him play out the way that it did, and it was he leading the team and yet you had the great thing of him on the sideline. For the first time in history you were able to look in as a player showed his temper over another player’s performance. Happened to be the kicker who then went on to have the best year of anybody in the league of the L.A. kicker. But there were an awful lot of players in this league who exhibited some pretty special qualities, and for the first time the public, who was either in the stadium or was watching on TV, was really able to see this. In the past they just heard announcers tell them about it.
Operator: The next question comes from John Higgins from Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. Please go ahead with your question.
John Higgins: I thought the player that personified the game was he hate me personally. First of all Vince you said deal points of UPN. What deal points?
V. McMahon: I don’t want to get into that. You know, I mean I’d rather not get into that, but just in terms of trying to make this deal going forward- not for just this upcoming year- but a multiple year type situation. Again, you have to look at it from a hard, cold business standpoint, and we’re very, very long range oriented in anything that we do. Again, the deal just broke down.
J. Higgins: WWFE seemed to be pretty looking to this for a lot of the growth in the future, so without this vehicle it’s going to be kind of harder to get much better ratings on cable than what you’ve got. If so, where does your growth come from?
V. McMahon: Oh, from WV standpoint our growth comes from a lot of different directions, one of which would be another brand that we just acquired, Ted Turner’s WCW or Time Warner’s WCW. So in any event we have an opportunity from a growth standpoint to double our television ratings and almost double all of our revenue at the same time keeping our cost and overhead down to a minimum. So we’ve got that. We have so many areas in terms of international as well to grow, as well as a film that’s currently out now called “The Mummy Returns.” Universal is graciously stating how much help we were for the success of that, not just with performance of one of our characters, The Rock, but the promotional effort, you know in our promotional machine, so obviously we’re growing in film. There’ll be other television as well coming out with other networks that we’re working with as well as the ones that we’re currently sharing. So our growth is boundless quite frankly.
J. Higgins: What is WWFE’s pre-tax loss on this.
G. Davis: John. Please. We’re trying to keep it to a couple questions from each person. I’m sure somebody else will cover that in a minute, but we are in a quiet period.
J. Higgins: Well you said what the post tax loss was. What’s the pre-tax loss?
V. McMahon: Who can answer that? Can somebody answer that are not?
Man: Vince, while you’re promoting all your product I’d like to point out that layoffs continue on NBC. [unintelligible] picks up at the Preakness in 10 days.
V. McMahon: Next question please.
Operator: The next question comes from Bob Keisser with the Long Beach Press Telegraph. Please go ahead with your question.
Bob Keisser: Yes, the question- other leagues have folded sometimes with players not being paid. Have all players been paid for what they performed for the year?
Man: Yes, they have.
V. McMahon: You won’t find again with World Wrestling Federation Entertainment NBC, you will not find anyone associated with this enterprise who isn’t taken care of in every conceivable way. You know, we do the right thing every time.
B. Keisser: And the follow-up question. Vince how much do you think you can lay blame on the mainstream media which never seemed to get what you were aiming it, going up and including your confrontation with Bob Costas with his show this year?
V. McMahon: I had a confrontation with Bob Costas? I wasn’t aware I had a confrontation with Bob Costas.
B. Keisser: You had an interview with Bob
V. McMahon: I did have an interview. I did have a discussion that got a little heated on occasion but I wouldn’t call that a confrontation. But in any event Bob’s a good guy. I’m looking forward to the next time we get together and so is he. Aside from that I would put no blame whatsoever on the media. Clearly it rests on my shoulders. This was my vision, and it did not work for whatever reason, and the media has- I’m the first guy- I have a pretty big mouth as you guys, most of you, know. And generally by the way I back up what I say, but you know, I’m a big advocate on the First Amendment rights and so I think everyone should be able to write whatever they want to write and I’m big on that. So I think the media has a right to, whether they like something or they don’t like it or whatever, you know, I certainly hope that from our standpoint, I know NBC didn’t, but I certainly hope from WB’s standpoint that we didn’t step on anybody’s toes out there. It was not our intention. But hopefully we gave you something to write about. It was not the media’s fault in terms of the failure of this at all. It was mine.
B. Keisser: Thank you Vince.
Operator: The next question comes from Jim Endrst from the Hartford Courant. Please go ahead with your question.
Jim Endrst: Yeah, hi. Dick, I was just wondering if you could sort of expand on an earlier question. Do you think that you got caught a little betwixt and between the football and the expectations for the WWF, that the ball fans didn’t think there was enough football and WWF fans didn’t think there was enough WWF style?
D. Ebersoll: You know Jim, I don’t. I think that the promo campaign was to have fun with football and the things that went on around football. If anything maybe the wrecking ball made people, the wrecking ball and the promotions about no fair catches may have made people think that there was going to be a little bit more there than football. But I still feel that if we’d given them a tighter product week one, I think the number week one, the ten whatever overnight, was way beyond mine and I’m sure Vince’s wildest expectations and probably had something to do with setting us up for a fall, not by what we did, but just we were amazed at how many people were there and we probably hadn’t had the play in New Haven long enough.
J. Endrst: Thanks.
Operator: Next question comes from Nikolas Dimitriou from the Paragon Press. Please go ahead with your question.
Nikolas Dimitriou: Hi Vince. Actually, my first question is about WCW. Is there any trepidation going into starting up the company now because of what’s happened with the XFL?
V. McMahon: Well absolutely not. No. WCW fits extremely well in terms of our brand building business.
N. Dimitriou: And what about what Variety reported earlier about CNN having problems because of stars such as Sting and Goldberg not being signed up [inaudible] with the deal.
V. McMahon: I’m sorry. What did Variety report? I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you.
N. Dimitriou: They reported something along the lines of Sting and Goldberg not being signed along with the deal and TNN having a problem with signing WCW programming to their station.
V. McMahon: No. TNN doesn’t have anything to do with us. This is all WVF entertainment and we will sign whomever we wish to sign.
N. Dimitriou: Is there any starting date set?
V. McMahon: No.
G. Davis: Next question please. You guys had three, Nick.
V. McMahon: I think if you guys don’t stop asking me stuff about WWF Entertainment, Ebersoll’s going to get hot. He will start promoting the NBA again or golf or something.
Operator: The next question comes from Pat Williams from L. W. Bills Company. Please go ahead with your question.
Pat Williams: Yeah, Vince. With the recent failures of the XFL and the other failures with [unintelligible] will you continue to do any ventures outside of wrestling?
V. McMahon: I don’t know what you mean by ‘outside of wrestling.’ We’re in the publishing business. We’re in the licensing business. We’re in the [unintelligible] business. We’re in the home video business. We’re in the Pay-per-View business. We’re in lots of businesses that cross over to lots of situations so we’re always on the lookout for the right growth potential. We’re a growth company. I have a view that either you’re going backwards or going forwards. The only time you’re in the middle is when you’re contemplating going forward. So that’s the end of that tune.
G. Davis: The next question please. We’re going to try to keep you all to one because we’re starting to run out of time and want to accommodate as many of you as possible.
Operator: The next question comes from Kevin Iole from the Las Vegas Review Journal. Please go ahead with your question.
Kevin Iole: Yes, for Vince. Vince, I wonder in relation to your answer before about the media and you said you blamed yourself. Do you think your press conference comments after the first game, where you basically told some of those writers you know to kiss your backside, made them feel hurt in the sense that those guys kind of took some retribution on you?
V. McMahon: Not really, because if they could see my backside they wouldn’t mind kissing it. I’ve got a very nice backside.
Again, I am- you know, whether I’m arrogant or I’m not, or whether I’m straight forward or I’m not, you know if the media likes that that’s cool. If they don’t, then they deal with it in whatever way that they want. So, I don’t know. Could I have been a little more gracious after the first game? You know, I may have been you know- I’ve got to be me guys. So, gracious or not.
Operator: The next question comes from Jared St. Laurent from the Miami Herald. Please go ahead with your question.
Jared St. Laurent: Vince, does the folding of the XFL have anything to do with the amount of work that has to be done to re-launch World Championship Wrestling?
V. McMahon: No, not really. You know, we were set up- Basil had XFL set up in such a way that I was able to concentrate you know not just on whatever I should be doing with XFL, but it didn’t in any way interfere with other growth situations such as WCW and many others that we’re going to be announcing soon. So it didn’t deter in any way.
J. St. Laurent: OK. Thank you.
Operator: The next question comes from Mike Krail from Chrysler. Please go ahead with your question.
Mike Krail: Hi Vince. I was just wondering if there was any thought with the exodus of players to the NFL if teaming up with them and using it as maybe a minor league for the National Football League?
V. McMahon: Surely there were a lot of thoughts about the possibility of that, and we attempted through a back door type situation to reach out. We knocked on the door but there wasn’t any answer. But that was one of the things that we were looking at. I mean, when you think about it and think about the World League and all of that and what it costs the NFL these days, it would make a lot of sense quite frankly, for the NFL to have a vested interest, financial interest quite frankly, in the continuance of the XFL, and I think that you’ll see as long as there’s a fair shot I’m sure there will be a lot of XFL players playing in the NFL this year.
M. Creyo: Thank you.
Operator: The next question comes from Allen Sepinwall from the Newark Star Ledger. Please go ahead with your question.
Allen Sepinwall: Vince, would you say the failure of the league rested entirely on the fans view of the play, or was it an overall television product? Were they disappointed by the play or the TV show?
V. McMahon: I don’t have that answer. I think that you know ultimately we’ll be very proud of the television show that we gave them. I think we’re also proud ultimately of the caliber of the play, but I don’t have that answer. I don’t know if anyone ever will. Dick might– could comment on that.
D. Ebersoll: You know Vince, I think that in about 10 years you’ll finally get to go to Harvard because I’m certain that this’ll be a Harvard Business School study. It’ll be the first time an East Carolina graduate is in the Harvard Business School.
V. McMahon: Well, first of all you should know that I’ve already been, not at a Harvard Business School but the Harvard Law School.
Operator: The next question comes from Jeff Leeds from the Los Angeles Times. Please go ahead with your question.
Jeff Leeds: Hey Vince. How’re you doing?
V. McMahon: Great.
J. Leeds: I was wondering if what this experience has taught you if anything about the wrestling audience, the core wrestling audience and your ability to sort of drive them to other things. You talked a minute ago about you know there was crossover [unintelligible]. What are the future of the core wrestling audiences and what they are into and what you can do with them?
V. McMahon: Well again, our audience is a vast audience and we’ll be happy to send you the research, which ARC just completed on our audience. Our audience is Middle America. You know, the average person watching has an income slightly above that of the average. The number of college graduates or those who have attended college you know is over 60 percent. So our audience is a group of independent thinkers and they’re loyal to the brand. It’s a great audience, so we can offer them football, we could offer them whatever it is that they want and it’s their prerogative as to whether or not they choose it. No different than any other audience.
Man: Everyone in this project worked very hard. We have it a great shot. The audience came and they didn’t like it. Not in the numbers that we needed to go forward, and the responsibility lies on us.
Next question please.
Operator: The next question comes from Allison Lieberman with the New York Post. Please go ahead with your question.
Allison Lieberman: This question’s for Dick. Can you quantify the losses for NBC? I know analysts have predicted anywhere between you know around $50 million for the year. Is that accurate?
D. Ebersoll: Those figures are in the ballpark Allison.
A. Lieberman: And Vince, is that the same. We’re partners but if Dick wants to accept more of the loss than us then that’s alright with me.
D. Ebersoll: Thank you Vince. Can I have some of the ice cubes?
Operator: Next question comes from Jim McConville with the Hollywood Reporter. Please go ahead with your question.
Jim McConville: Yes, to either Dick or to Vince. In retrospect if you were to do it over would you put a Saturday night game? Could that have been the big reason why young audiences came but quickly went?
V. McMahon: Again, from NBCs standpoint, I can’t speak. From a WVF standpoint, the idea of having the privilege of teaming up with NBC, the network of the Olympics, and knowing who was behind this in terms of not just NBC but Dick Ebersoll, and the opportunity to work with Dick again as I have in the past, was whether Saturday night was the night or not it turned out not to be, but you know it was the right thing to do.
D. Ebersoll: Saturday night is our night of the week, Vince.
G. Davis: OK. We have time for one last question.
Operator: The last question comes from David Lassen from Ventura County Star. Please go ahead with your question.
Jim Carlyle: Actually this is Jim Carlyle of the Star. Dick Ebersoll, after the XFL and the criticism received during the Olympics, do you think your reputation has been tarnished at all by this situation, either from inside or outside the network, and if so what do you do to restore it?
D. Ebersoll: You know Jim, I think life is cyclical, and about every ten years you hit some bumps in the road, but life is about risk and opportunity. There was a great opportunity here for us as a business and as a sport. We worked hard. It didn’t work. And we all move on. Vince moves on to WCW and starting something there. We move on to things like the Triple Crown, the NBA playoffs, and the live or mostly live Olympics in Salt Lake City. But life wouldn’t be as good as it’s been for both Vince McMahon and Dick Ebersoll if we didn’t continue to risk things, and when things don’t work that doesn’t mean you stop risking.
J. Carlyle: Thanks.
G. Davis: OK. With that we’ll conclude our call. Thank you all for taking the time to join us, and if there are any follow-up questions please feel free to contract Kevin Sullivan at NBC or to contact myself here at World Wrestling Federation Entertainment. We’ll be glad to follow up as best we can.
Man: Thank you guys.
Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude the conference call for today. We thank you for your participation and ask that you please disconnect your lines.