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Sphere Generated $4.1 Million From Its First Two U2 Concerts

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Sphere, the stunning venue that has transformed the Las Vegas skyline and redefined the concert-going experience, generated $4.1 million from U2’s first two concerts in September, its owner, Sphere Entertainment Co., reported in its quarterly earnings release on Wednesday (Nov. 8). 

The $2.3 billion Sphere is a 366-foot tall, 516-foot wide spherical venue with a wrap-around video screen that envelopes a seated audience of 17,600. Sphere’s external skin — called Exosphere — is covered in 580,000 square feet of programmable LED exterior lights that advertises the venue’s technological capabilities.

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Sphere also made $2.6 million in additional revenue, primarily from advertising on the Exosphere that began in September. 

With only two concerts under its belt through the end of September, Sphere’s earnings release was about the venue’s potential, not its revenue to date. “Our journey with Sphere is just beginning,” said executive chairman/CEO James Dolan during Wednesday’s earnings call. “And while it will take some time for Sphere to realize its full potential, we’re off to a great start.”

U2’s original 25-show residency has been extended by an additional 11 shows that will occur in January and February 2024. The company expects to host two additional residencies in the second half of the fiscal year that ends June 30, 2024, according to Dolan. “We’re having conversations with artists across a wide variety of genres, including discussing runs of varying lengths,” he said.

Sphere had an adjusted operating loss of $83.1 million in the quarter, an increase of $19 million from the prior-year period. It also had $2.8 million of venue operating expenses in the quarter and $2.2 million of event-related expenses. An additional $2.1 million in advertising costs were related to the Oct. 6 launch of The Sphere Experience featuring the film Postcard from Earth by Darren Aronofsky. Selling, general and administrative expenses amounted to $84.2 million. 

The Las Vegas venue is the first of what Sphere Entertainment expects to be multiple Sphere venues. Dolan was light on specifics but said there is “a great deal of interest and substantive discussions” in several additional markets. “I will say that it does look like Sphere will be a global brand,” he said, “and so we should expect the expansion globally rather than just in the U.S.”

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Sphere Entertainment had total revenue of $118 million in its fiscal first quarter ended September 30, down 4% from the prior-year period. MSG Networks contributed $110.2 million of revenue, down 10% year over year. MSG Networks, which operates two regional sports networks, joined Sphere following a spin-off of MSG Entertainment in April. That same month, Sphere reached an agreement to sell its stake in Tao Group Hospitality to global luxury lifestyle company Mohari Hospitality for about $300 million.

Shares of Sphere Entertainment fell as much as 8.4% to $30.58 on Wednesday morning before recovering to $31.90, down 4.4%, by mid-afternoon. The stock price took a bigger hit on Monday, however, dropping 9.6% following the company’s announcement late on Friday that CFO Gautam Ranji had left the company. Dolan attributed Ranji’s departure to Sphere being a new type of business. “It’s pretty challenging,” he said. “I think we both came to the conclusion that it probably wasn’t a great fit.”

Financial metrics for the first fiscal quarter:

Total revenue of $118 million, down 4% year over year.

Adjusted operating loss of $57.9 million, up 88% year over year.

Net income of $66.4 million, up from a $44 million net loss in the prior-year period.

Sphere revenue of $7.8 million.

Sphere event-related revenue of $4.1 million.

MSG Networks revenue of $110.2 million, down 10% year over year.

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