World Wrestling Entertainment

Part
01
of six
Part
01

World Wrestling Entertainment - Biggest Sponsors/Partners

Five of the biggest partners/sponsors of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) are Snickers, Progressive, Paramount Pictures, Post Consumer Brands, and Pizza Hut. Snickers, Progressive, Paramount Pictures, and Pizza Hut will be involved in SmackDown’s debut on the Fox network. Post Consumer Brands’ cereal boxes have featured WWE Superstars such as John Cena, Becky Lynch, and Big Show.

SNICKERS (MARS)

  • Snickers has served as the “exclusive presenting partner of WrestleMania” since 2016.
  • The brand’s You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ campaign that featured WWE Superstars was aired on WWE’s TV programs such as Raw and SmackDown during the lead up to the 2019 edition of WrestleMania.
  • The TV spot was also aired on the WWE Network during the WrestleMania event.
  • Snickers has released limited-edition Hunger Bars that included the “catchphrases of five Superstars on the packaging,” which were available from March to April 2019 only.
  • It is an ongoing sponsor of WWE and will be one of the brands involved in SmackDown’s debut on the Fox network.
  • The length of the partnership/sponsorship has not been announced.
  • The estimated annual revenue for Mars, the parent company of Snickers, is $35 billion.

PROGRESSIVE

  • In September 2019, it was announced that Progressive has signed on as the presenting sponsor of Friday Night SmackDown, which will be making its debut on October 4, 2019.
  • According to Fox Sports executive VP, sports sales Seth Winter, “integrations will play a significant role” in this partnership.
  • Winter has also mentioned that the in-show features related to “this immersive sponsorship are likely to evolve over time.”
  • The length of the partnership/sponsorship has not been announced.
  • Progressive’s revenue for 2018 was $32 billion.

PARAMOUNT PICTURES (VIACOM)

  • Paramount Pictures has also been named as one of the sponsors for Friday Night SmackDown.
  • The commercial breaks during the broadcast of the program will feature TV spots for the company’s new movies such as Gemini Man (to be released on October 11, 2019) and Playing with Fire (November 8, 2019), which stars WWE superstar John Cena.
  • WWE’s partnership with Paramount is ongoing as its animation division will be working with WWE Studios to produce Rumble, “which is set in a world where monster wrestling is a global sport and monsters are superstar athletes.”
  • The length of the partnership/sponsorship has not been announced.
  • The 2018 revenue for Viacom, the parent company of Paramount Pictures, was $12.943 billion.

POST CONSUMER BRANDS (POST HOLDINGS)

  • WWE’s partnership with Post Consumer Brands began in 2012 when John Cena was featured on the top of the brand’s Fruity Pebbles boxes.
  • In 2013, Cena began to receive “prominent placement on the front and center of boxes.”
  • As part of the new agreement signed in September 2019, WWE Superstars Becky Lynch and Big Show will be featured on the front of the Post Honeycomb cereal boxes and Post Golden Crisp cereal boxes respectively.
  • The length of the partnership/sponsorship has not been announced.
  • The 2018 revenue for Post Holdings, the parent company of Post Consumer Brands, was $6.257 billion.

PIZZA HUT (YUM! BRANDS)

RESEARCH STRATEGY

We have defined WWE’s biggest partners/sponsors as those with the largest annual revenues, relatively well-known, and have received significant press coverage related to the partnerships. To identify WWE’s biggest partners/sponsors, we first examined the company’s press releases and articles published by external media outlets that talked about WWE extending or signing new partnership/sponsorship agreements over the past two years. Next, we identified the estimated or actual revenues of the (parent) companies that are still active partners/sponsors of WWE. Based on publicly available information, WWE’s five biggest, active partners/sponsors are Mars (parent company of Snickers, $35 billion), Progressive ($32 billion), Viacom (parent company of Paramount Pictures, $12.943 billion), Post Holdings (parent company of Post Consumer Goods, $6.257 billion), and Yum! Brands (parent company of Pizza Hut, $2 billion). These brands are considered well-known to the public and there is significant amount of information related to their partnerships with WWE.
Part
02
of six
Part
02

World Wrestling Entertainment - Most Watched Shows

WWE's most watched shows are the PPV events such as Wrestlemania and SummerSlam. Among their weekly shows, the most viewed shows on the USA Network are RAW, SmackDown and now NXT is on USA as well. However, the company is currently pivoting the platform for SmackDown to move from its flagship channel USA to Fox that has a 33% higher viewership. In addition, in the last two weeks WWE NXT pivoted from being accessible only through the Network and WWE's YouTube Channel to being aired on USA. MIZ and MRS have a successful reality show that also airs on USA. Information regarding their shows and viewership is provided below.

GENERAL

  • WWE is known for providing entertainment through television programming, PPV, digital media and publishing platforms and is seen in over 800 million homes throughout the world in 25 different languages. The WWE Network, their online platform available in over 180 countries, is the "first-ever 24/7 over-the-top premium network" that includes all the PPVs of live events, scheduled shows, and VOD content.
  • The WWE Network had 1.69 million paid subscribers as of 2Q 2019.
  • Revenue from all media for 2Q 2019 was $197 million.

1. WRESTLEMANIA

2. SUMMERSLAM

  • SummerSlam is an annual live PPV event that features superstars from both RAW and SmackDown. Both RAW and SmackDown see increases in viewers in the weeks that lead up to SummerSlam.
  • Total attendance for SummerSlam 2019 was 16,904 people. SummerSlam 2018 had a total of 16,169 fans.
  • SummerSlam's 2019 kickoff show was viewed by 2.9 million people either live or online. More than 1.65 million paid subscription holders were able to view the event on the WWE Network.
  • The top three viewed SummerSlam 2018 videos on the WWE's YouTube channel were Roman Reigns post-match comments (1.1 million), Lesnar vs Stroman (740,000), and Rousey vs Bliss (602,000).

3. RAW

  • RAW is a weekly episodic wrestling program that features story lines between hero and villain wrestlers that end in matches, interviews, backstage side plots and commentary.
  • In 2018, RAW averaged 2.823 million viewers per episode.
  • RAW's season premiere on September 30, 2019, was the show's best viewership since their SummerSlam event, and captivated an audience of about 2.571 million viewers, an increase of 16% from the prior week. It was the most viewed episode of RAW since their post-SummerSlam episode on August 12th that had 2.729 million viewers. RAW's viewership declines slightly when football season starts.
  • RAW's prime time ratings for the second quarter of 2019 were 1.47 million viewers and 1.25 million viewers, respectively.
  • RAW ranked 8th in cable viewership behind the NFL, and for the 18-49 demographic it ranked 4th in the Cable Top 150.

4. SMACKDOWN

  • SmackDown is a weekly, episodic wrestling program that features story lines between hero and villain wrestlers that end in matches, interviews, backstage side plots and commentary.
  • SmackDown had 1.25 million viewers in 2Q 2019, however, the show will start airing on Fridays on Fox starting October 4th, 2019. Fox is in 120 million homes which is a 33% higher viewership than the USA Network where Raw and SmackDown currently air. The Fox debut marks the first time that the WWE will air live on a premier broadcast network for 52 weeks a year.
  • The final episode of SmackDown on the USA network had 2.099 million viewers.

5. MIZ AND MRS

  • MIZ and MRS is a reality show featuring wrestler the Miz and his wife Maryse as new parents and their fast-paced lives. It airs on the USA Network.
  • In August, the show's season 1 finale had 1.094 million viewers and ranked 3rd in cable viewership for the night for the 18-49 demographic according to Cable Top 150. Season 1 had a total of 21.172 million viewers throughout the whole season and an average of 1.058 million viewers per episode.

6. WWE NXT

  • WWE NXT is a weekly episodic wrestling entertainment show that features a series of events where the wrestlers play heroes or villains and build tensions through story lines that end in wrestling matches.
  • NXT had 1.179 million views on September 18, 2019, and 1.006 million views on September 25, 2019. Last week, NXT YouTube's views reached 715,076 views.
  • NXT recent debut on the USA network had 1.179 million viewers and ranked 4th on the Cable Top 150. The second week's ratings were 1.006 million viewers. For both of these episodes, they only aired the first hour on USA and the second hour aired on its flagship platform the WWE Network. NXT ran for the full two hours for the first time on October 2nd during the premiere of the rival company AEW.
Part
03
of six
Part
03

World Wrestling Entertainment - Advertising Efforts

The WWE generally advertises their media category within the content, however, when they do run ads the majority are run during their RAW and SmackDown programs. In addition, the company advertises itself on its own platform and is currently seeking outside advertisers to make use of their platform so they can generate more revenue from outside entities. Outside of TV ads, WWE markets itself using tactics such as creating social campaigns that educate consumers and expose them to the WWE and gives them a chance to interact with the media by winning trips to big PPV events. The company also uses partner advertising, fan integration with the media category, and their talent's social media reach and ability to drum up enthusiasm for their events. Information and examples of each strategy are described below.

MEDIA CATEGORY GENERAL INFORMATION

  • WWE describes their media category to be the production of and monetization of long-form and short-form videos across all platforms, including their own WWE Network, pay TV, digital and social media, and filmed entertainment. All of their content is available on the Network. Revenue from the platforms primarily come from subscriptions, advertising, and rights fees.
  • For Wrestlemania 35, the company advertised for 85 wrestlers, the most ever for the event dubbed to be their equivalent to the Superbowl.
  • The WWE has over 1 billion fans across social media platforms and their You Tube channel is ranked the "second most viewed channel in the world" and the largest sports network channel in the world. WWE digital content viewership was up by 77% last year, and included 1.2 billion hours.

1. TV ADS

WWE NETWORK
  • Prior to the launch of the WWE Network, the company purchased 500 TV advertising slots worth $2.6 million across multiple cable TV networks to play from January 1 to April 12, 2016, to encourage television viewers to sign-up for the Network.
  • The television ads primarily ran during WWE's RAW and SmackDown on the USA Network in four 30-second slots per show. Other NBCU channels that they advertised on were Bravo, NBC, MSNBC, E!, Syfy, and NBC Sports and non-NBC channels of Spike TV, truTV, TNT, Fox News, Nickelodeon, VH1, BET, and Travel Channel.
  • The results of the pre-launch advertising was 2 million subscribers after Wrestlemania.

2. SOCIAL CONTENT

NESTLE PURE LIFE AND WWE CHOOSE WATER CAMPAIGN
  • The campaign between Nestle Pure Life and WWE consisted of a series of social videos shared on both companies' social media channels that featured WWE superstars like Charlotte Flair stressing the importance of staying hydrated.
  • The campaign is said to be the WWE's way to target the families market. Sharing of the videos with an explanation of why a person chose water and using the #ChooseWater gave participants a chance to win a trip to WWE SummerSlam, one of the biggest PPV events.
  • The social contest exposed more people to one of the biggest events in the media category.

3. PARTNER ADS

  • WWE and Consumer Brands expanded their partnership in September 2019, and superstars Becky Lynch and Big Show will be featured on 7 million boxes of Post Honeycomb and Golden Crisp cereal.
  • The collaboration was logical for the two companies as they are both family-friendly brands and will enable Post to reach the wide WWE audience and also advertise for WWE programming as they offer a free 3-month subscription to the WWE Network where all of their media content is available.

4. FAN INTEGRATION WITH THE MEDIA CATEGORY

  • The Social Media Team Managers have integrated tweets from fans and talent in a Twitter ticker that gives commentary and sustains conversation on their matches and promotions. Viewers are given the chance to affect the show's outcome by participating in polling contests on the WWE website, app, and by using specific Twitter hashtags.
  • This tactic generated more than 1.3 social media mentions per week with RAW and SMACKDOWN often being number 1 in social media mentions for both broadcast and cable TV. It also resulted in the company being a finalist in the Social Media Manager category from the 5th Annual Shorty Awards.
  • Friday Night SmackDown is going to further their "commitment to social" by running a pilot show called "Social Media SmackDown (SMS)" that will feature live commentary, Twitter ticker, and live chat with talent.

5. TALENT AND SOCIAL MEDIA

  • Vince is viewed to be a forward thinker who knew early on the importance of social media and the WWE and its stars "relentlessly" promote across all social media channels.
  • The talent use their social media accounts to drive up enthusiasm from their fans for upcoming productions. An example of this is Becky Lynch and her popular Twitter battles with upcoming opponents that is stated she pragmatically used to add depth to her feuds with opponents and build her character.
  • The tactic is also credited with her swift rise in becoming a disruptive force at WrestleMania. Examples of these feuds include her epic Twitter wars with Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair, along with most of the talent roster.
Part
04
of six
Part
04

World Wrestling Entertainment - E-commerce Advertising Efforts

World Wrestling Entertainment's advertising efforts for its e-commerce storefront include ensuring social media presence, TV & radio advertising, acquiring the services of influencers and agencies, and advertising through other platforms. On the other hand, WWE Shop advertising agencies implement strategies such as PPC (Pay-per-click) approach, paid social, display advertising, and remarketing.

Social Media Presence

TV & Radio Advertising

  • In the past month, WWE Shop had 4 TV commercial airings. WWE Shop ranked 3,442nd in terms of airing and 1,987th in terms of spend compared to all other advertisers.
  • WWE Shop is also advertised through the radio.

WWE Shop Influencers

  • While WWE talents are needed to assign their current intellectual property to WWE for the length of the agreement and "all property produced for the wrestler during his time with WWE belonged in perpetuity to WWE," the wrestlers earn a portion of the merchandise they sell.
  • Roman Reigns, who has 2.19 million Twitter followers and over 17 million Facebook page likes, sold the most merchandises by a full-time wrestler in the WWE in 2017.
  • Aside from wrestling stars acting as ambassadors for their merchandises, there are fans, like Ashlee White, who hype up new products for WWE.
  • Fans can use platforms like Yazing to apply for the WWE Shop Influencer program. Members are to promote up-to-date WWE Shop deal and coupon code page on Yazing, and will earn 6% of sales as WWE Shop commission.

Marketing/Advertising Agencies

  • PathInteractive
    • WWE partners with advertising agencies to boost its WWE Shop sales. One of the agencies it has partnered before was PathInteractive, which helped WWE Shop maximize sales by optimizing cost per click, click-through rate, quality score, etc.
    • PathInteractive's strategy for WWE Shop was launching new acquisition channels such as AdRoll, Facebook Ads, Google Display, and Google Remarketing.
    • The strategy increased WWE Shop's PPC-driven sales by 127% in just 3 months and year-over-year revenue by 208%. It also helped WWE Shop get an 11.2 return on ad spend, 4.2 more than WWE's goal.
  • Honcho
    • Another agency WWE partnered with to improve its WWE Shop performance was Honcho in 2015.
    • Honcho first researched and identified "storyline awareness and engagement leads to higher buys."
    • To reach several target countries, Honcho translated and adapted all video and display assets.
    • The agency also took a comprehensive PPC approach to drum up a buzz for customers.
    • Another Honcho's approach for WWE Shop was to re-market by using information from those who were social pages fans and had bought merchandise, knowing the target market was a fully committed and relevant audience.
    • In the first quarter of 2015, Honcho showed WWE Shop ads to over 800 million times to fans. WWE Shop Twitter followers increased by 35%, as well. There was also a 15% and 35% improvement on online sales year-over-year and pay-per-view buys, respectively.

Other Platforms




Part
05
of six
Part
05

World Wrestling Entertainment -SWOT

The World Wrestling Entertainment’s TV programming is available in over 800 million homes worldwide. The main competitors of the company include New Japan Pro Wrestling and All Elite Wrestling. To attract more fans, World Wrestling Entertainment has expanded its presence in markets such as the Middles East, China, and India.

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

  • WWE’s main programming Raw and SmackDown have been attracting fewer viewers recently. During the last week of April, both shows logged their lowest viewership of 2019. That week’s episodes of Raw and SmackDown decreased by 30% and 25% from 2018, respectively.
  • It has been reported that the decrease in viewership may be attributed to WWE’s “underwhelming core product,” overall decline in the industry, and competitions from other major sports leagues such as NFL and NBA.
  • The company’s non-televised live event (house shows) attendance in North America has also been dropping for every quarter in 2018. It decreased by “7% from an average of 5,400 fans per show to 5,000 fans per show” during Q4 of 2018. Live attendance declined by “8% from 4,900 fans to 4,500 fans” during the third quarter.
  • The possible reasons for the decrease in attendance include fewer WWE fans, “a lack of a real, major drawing card,” house shows lacking a sense of importance, and the frequent false advertising about major wrestlers who are supposed to appear during the live events.
  • WWE has attracted controversy for hosting live events in Saudi Arabia. The second show called Crown Jewel was held shortly after the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. All three shows held so far did not feature female wrestlers.

OPPORTUNITIES

  • In March 2018, the company signed a ten-year deal with the Government of Saudi Arabia and held its first live event in the country in April. As part of the deal, WWE may also hire local talent, open a training center, and produce localized content for WWE Network. In 2018, Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss became the first female wrestlers to compete in the United Arab Emirates, and Jordanian Shadia Bseiso became the first Arab female performer signed by the company.
  • WWE has signed Chinese wrestlers such as Xia Li Boa and Rocky and has held two tryout camps in China. The company has recently renewed its partnership with broadcaster PP Sports to deliver WWE programming to viewers in China. WWE is also planning to launch a Mandarin-language TV show called WWE Now China.
  • India is currently the biggest market for WWE outside of the United States. In March 2019, WWE held its first try-outs in India. The event attracted 80 potential candidates, making it “the largest try-outs in WWE history globally.”
  • In January 2019, WWE began working with Endeavor Streaming to rebuild the WWE Network and attract more subscribers. In July 2019, the redesigned service offered customers improved video quality, easier navigation through the platform’s programming vault, and a better search tool. The partnership is expected to provide other benefits such as the “potential to offer different pricing tiers, better localization and multi-language support, and more.”
  • In July 2019, it was reported that WWE has begun testing out new cameras to prepare for possible use when the SmackDown show moves to the FOX network in October. The footage filmed will provide a “cinematic feel” that is often seen when watching a WWE documentary special. The goal is to make the show of its newest competitor All Elite Wrestling (AEW) “appear minor league compared to what fans view on FOX Friday nights.”

THREATS

  • In 2015, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) began airing its events weekly in the United States on AXS TV. Today, its programming is also available to American audiences via live streaming. In 2019, NJPW has held major events in the United States such as a supershow with Ring of Honor at Madison Square Garden and a G1 Climax event at the American Airlines Center.
  • Launched in May 2019, AEW is backed by billionaires Tony and Shahid Khan. The wrestling promotion has sold out pay-per-view events held in Las Vegas and Chicago. AEW's weekly live broadcast debuted in October 2019 on the TNT network.
  • WWE has recently faced a concussion lawsuit filed by 60 former wrestlers who worked for the company in the 1980s and 1990s such as Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Joseph “Road Warrior Animal” Laurinaitis, and others. The plaintiffs have claimed that the company “failed to protect them from repeated head trauma including concussions that led to long-term brain damage.” In September 2018, US District Judge Vanessa Bryant dismissed the lawsuit as “many of the claims were frivolous or filed after the statute of limitations expired.”
Part
06
of six
Part
06

World Wrestling Entertainment -Growth Initiatives

Some World Wrestling Entertainment's initiatives for growth include solid international sponsorship, strategic deals, efforts to increase subscribers, expanding its presence globally, and interesting content.

SOLID INTERNATIONAL SPONSORSHIP

  • In 2018, World Wrestling Entertainment's sponsorship and advertising sales increased by "49.6% across media platforms".
  • The company joined blue-chip advertisers including Nestle, KFC, and AT&T. This improved its international sponsorship revenue.
  • An agreement with Lagardere Sports, a sports marketing agency will help the company get international sponsorship.

STRATEGIC DEALS

  • The company's multi-year deals with USA Network and Fox Sports for the distribution of its programs will improve the "annual value of WWE's U.S. distribution".
  • The management estimates this to 3.6 times NBC Universal's contract.
  • WWE's management estimate the revenues to increase to $462 million in 2021 from $311 million in 2019.

EFFORTS TO INCREASE SUBSCRIBERS

  • The company's average year over year paid subscribers increased by 10% to 1.8million in the second quarter of 2018.
  • Digital video views increased by 58% in the first six months of 2018 to 14.4 billion.
  • Hours consumed across social media and digital platforms increased by 71% in 2018 to 509 million.
  • WWE believes that by increasing content as well as a distribution network, it will continue to add more WWE Network subscribers.
  • The company is also continuing to work to bring more fans into the fold. Most importantly women, "who make up 40% of its TV audience".

EXPANDING ITS PRESENCE GLOBALLY

  • In January 2019, WWE opened a UK Performance Center, the first outside the United States. This is a significant effort by the company to localize its content globally.
  • WWE has created its public presence known on all devices and on all distribution channels.
  • WWE is also striving to represent global culture.
  • The company sees great opportunities in countries such as India, China, the Middle East, and Latin America because of their population.

INTERESTING CONTENT

  • The company is striving to produce interesting and compelling content to retain reviewers.
  • According to Ewrestling, the female vs male matches are attempts to find something interesting.
  • WWE plans to put the Worlds Collide show as a cross combining opportunity in January. This is aimed at making their content interesting.
  • WWE tracks all sorts of metrics. The company has 60 data researchers who continuously analyze all kinds of information that include purchases, social media trends, engagement, and interests. This helps the company produce interesting and customized content.
Sources
Sources

From Part 05