$WIZD Wizard World Inc. Claws It’s Way Towards Becoming an Integrated Global Media Superhero

  • Wiz Pop Content Reaching Global Audience of 100’s of millions
  • Sony IP Incubator looking for Black Panther 2.0
  • Solid Management Morphing WIZD into a Global Media Property
  • 15 Major shows expected to draw 500,000+ fans (Cleveland Ohio this weekend!)

Wizard World, Inc. (WIZD) is an up and coming player in the fast-growing fan convention market place.  Most people have heard of Comic-Con and Cosplay.  You have to be living under a rock to have not heard about the recent success of the hit movie “The Black Panther.” Given its success it’s likely to be a mainstay at the future fan conventions.  Sony (SNE) and WIZD have teamed to produce films and licensing products similar to “The Black Panther.”  Fan conventions in general are no longer for just the geeks, nerds, and freaks but they are becoming mainstream and family friendly with adult and child wanting to attend the events.  According to Eventbrite “In 2017 over 135,000+ people and exhibitors have showed up” at the last Comic-Con.  Author of Comic-Con & the Business of Pop Culture, Rob Salkowitz, explains to Affino “Extravagant festivals celebrating comics, gaming, manga/anime and pop culture have gone from being ‘nerd niche’ to ‘peak geek:’ the most popular events in the burgeoning ‘experience economy’ and drivers of more than $4 billion in economic activity in North America alone.”  This is big business and WIZD is an up and coming player in the market. Wizard World announced that they will produce 4 hours of daily content under the ‘WizPop’ brand to the China market.  This is a major milestone for WIZD because it gives them a foray into the largest market in the world that consumes entertainment on an epic scale.

Management Team

In 2016 John Maatta became the CEO of Wizard world and seems to have orchestrated a real turnaround.  Maatta was the CEO of the CW Television Network at Warner Bros. so it was just a matter of time before he got back into his element of programming.  His resume is impressive because he served as General Counsel of WB Television Network and was the COO of CW under Viacom before it got spun off to CBS.  Mr. Maatta has over 25 years of experience and was responsible for many of the initial distribution deal.  He has a sound education background and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the University of San Francisco and a Juris Doctorate from the University of California Hastings College of Law.


New Intellectual Property Development

A couple of weeks ago WIZD teamed up with Sony Pictures Entertainment to incubate new talent and this news has flown under the radar until recently.  Mr. Maatta’s background was likely a key factor in the formation of this venture with Sony.  Sony plans to use these events to incubate talent.   A perfect example of this is the “Black Panther” movie which is expected to surpass $1.0 billion in box office sales in the coming weeks according to Forbes.  It’s this type of talent that Sony is searching for in this forum as they look for Black Panther 2.0.  Think of the licensing potential when they do land the right actor or genre of movie.  Incubators are long term in nature, but the potential here can’t be quantified, but this partnership is very valuable indeed and talent will flock to their shows in the hope that they get discovered.  This partnership strongly positions them in the show market because it assures the long-term viability of being able to attract stars and up and coming artists.  Sony can also capitalize on merchandising and using the shows as a platform to present and showcase their own projects. It is very synergistic.


Mammoth Market Size

The recently announced WizPop/CNLive deal enhances WIZD’s global brand in China. According to WIZD an “estimated 390 million Chinese nationals are English speakers and English learners.”  The new show is expect to reach 90% of the viewers who get CN Live service.  That means 90 million of the 100 million viewers across China.  In addition there is a free non-subscription channel that reaches an estimated 680 million internet users.  There are a lot of mind boggling numbers swirling around, but what it distills down to, is a lot of advertising dollars.  Since there is no current comparison for existing programming, it’s helpful to look at comparables in the E-sports marketplace where its $25 CPM.  Assuming just 5% of the subscribers and a $25 CPM it works out to $125,000 per episode daily.  It’s 4 hours of streaming, so likely quadruple (multiply by 4) this number.  The point is, this is a mammoth marketplace and the JV agreement should translate into earnings in short order.

Emerging African American Market

A recent article on Black Panther: Lessons In Hollywood Diversity and Pride wrote, “Black Panther” has unequivocally become one of many recent inflection points for the African American community, especially following the success of extraordinary black voter turnout in tough southern elections. It could be argued that since the end of the historic and groundbreaking Obama presidency, black people have been searching for a superhero, or a “yes we can” leader like T’Challa. For two hours, he becomes more than a comic-book superhero. He transforms into a symbol of hope for African Americans, much like President Obama was during the previous eight years. This “superhero” movie taps into a whole new market of African American fans which Wizard World’s Comic-Con events may see a slight bump in attendance.

This feel good moment has Asian Americans asking, “when is our Black Panther moment?“.  Asian Americans may never get the defining moment that Black Panther embodies for African Americans, but that might also be okay. As a community, we must support the efforts of African American filmmakers if we hope to see more diverse representation that will allow each of our stories to be told.

Until black folks and Indigenous peoples regain their humanity in the context of Hollywood cinema, equitable portrayals of Asian Americans cannot exist either. To paraphrase the words of the late Japanese American activist Yuri Kochiyama, it is only through black liberation that we will find our own equality.

Check out last year’s 2017 event in Cleveland 

The Convention Business

Wizard World has 15 shows scheduled this year and at least 500,000 visitors. WIZD also does 20 concert type shows a year.  Many celebrities at show do photo ops, signings and present awards. Celebrities are a key draw at these show, but equally benefit them as they get to meet with fans and have a chance to network with producers and directors looking for fresh new actors and content. This weekend’s show will be in Cleveland March 2,3,4 with celebrities from hit shows such as Gotham, Dr. Who, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Sailor Moon, Star Trek, Power Rangers, Napoleon Dynamite, Attack On Titan, Smallville, Torchwood and more! Check out last year’s 2017 event in Cleveland by watching the YouTube video above.

Market Stats

There are 68 million shares outstanding with 48 million shares owned by insiders leaving a 20 million shares left in the float.  There are no convertible notes that could lead to dilution.  The company has $13.0 million in revenue over a 9 month period from the last quarterly filing in September 2017. The companies recent announcements with SONY and Associated Television International have fueled a bounce which caused the stock price to nearly triple off its early January lows. The company’s RSI is just under 70.

Investment Conclusion  

WIZD is one of the largest producers of fan convention shows.  The shows attract over 500K visitors annually and growing.  The new CEO really delivered this year and his experience in network television allowed them to sign with China CN Live with an audience of 800 million.  They are in a great position to monetize their content production.  It is also synergistic with their trade shows.  Monetization seems to be an underlying theme this year with over 15 shows.  The company could see an additional bump due to the large success from “The Black Panther” movie.  With the turnaround of the business imminent and the expansion in the media realm, this niche sector play should see expansion, and growth of its brand name.  The teaming with Sony is a first step in what could be the beginning of a buyout?  It seems like other partners like Marvel, based on the success of “The Black Panther,” could be developed in future.  Media content producers are normally valued in the billions so there is quite a bit of upside in this stock.

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