World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE, as known by its raving fanbase around the world, is more than a professional wrestling outfit. The organization is an integrated media company with a very specific, targeted brand of entertainment. One area that has made WWE stand out is its strength in building platforms.
The History of Professional Wrestling
Professional wrestling has always been a territory based business, where the show would travel around a specific territory, catering to a specific audience. Vince McMahon, ever the entrepreneur, wanted to take his father’s wrestling company and turn it into a worldwide success. In other words, he wanted to break the mold of a territory-based business model and serve a global audience.
McMahon repositioned his company, then WWF as a sports entertainment company. This opened up a much broader segment of the market while distancing himself from the professional wrestling stigma. In doing so, McMahon was able to corner the market and take control of the newly defined “sports entertainment industry.”
McMahon pioneered pay-per-views and television network distribution in an age when it was unheard of, especially for professional wrestling. Nearly 30 years later, WWE’s Monday Night Raw has been a staple of the USA Network and has expanded to include WWE’s Smackdown as well. These two shows serve as platforms into the ecosystem, or the WWE Universe, as they call it.
The Home Court Advantage without having a home court
One of the ways that WWE has excelled in building its fanbase is through its live event offerings. With more than 300 live shows a year, the company puts on performances multiple times per week, in cities all over the world. But the events are not just events. WWE has turned their events into platforms in and of themselves.
No matter the stadium, when WWE puts on a show, it’s like it’s their home court.
Each show, Raw, Smackdown, Saturday Night Main Event, NXT, they all have very specific brand colors, lighting, and stage sets, which evoke a distinct vibe between all events. As an audience member, you can feel the difference between a Raw event versus an NXT event. This distinction has allowed each show to become a platform in and of itself. But the biggest show has become one of the most well-known events around the world, whether you are a WWE fan or not:
Wrestlemania has become a Platform
When McMahon envisioned Wrestlemania, I don’t believe he ever saw, what has ultimately become a multi-day celebration of the sport he has shaped. Wrestlemania became the anchor for all of the live events to build up to. It became the reason to watch and see what would happen at the biggest event of the year. Fast forward 32 years, and the event has grown into a 4 day fan festival with several marquee events including NXT Takeover on Friday, the WWE Hall of Fame Inductee ceremony Saturday, and Wrestlemania on Sunday.
The latest event coming up is Wrestlemania 32, a sports entertainment extravaganza that combines Hollywood celebrities, pop culture, music, and WWE’s sports entertainment. The event is like nothing else any other wrestling or entertainment company puts on. The platform, Wrestlemania 32, becomes a BrandedWorld in and of itself.
Due to the size and scope of what Wrestlemania has become, it has had a positive economic effect on the city that holds the event. Similar to the NFL’s Super Bowl, Wrestlemania has boosted host cities’ economies by approximately $100 million dollars, and nearly one billion dollars over the last decade.
Pioneering a New Model
Over the last two years, WWE has begun pioneering a new model. As the shift from cable continues, more and more viewers prefer to consume content via the web. WWE has proactively developed the WWE Network, an application similar to Netflix, which provides round-the-clock access to all of WWE’s archived content, as well as new content and all live pay-per-view events.
The WWE experience now extends from the web, to mobile apps and games, to toys and clothes, to live events, and now an on-demand channel dedicated to sports entertainment.
While the WWE Network has been increasing fairly quickly, hitting one million subscribers in the first eleven months, there has been some churn, which shows that the company still has improvements to make. The cyclical nature of the sport becomes transparent in the data, as subscribers sign up and cancel around major events. The Network overall, as of now, sits around 1.6 million subscribers. As the network continues to evolve with innovation and consumer feedback, it is poised for continued growth.
Will you be experiencing Wrestlemania 32?
You can check out the matches that are scheduled for Wrestlemania 32.