4 Key Lessons WWE Has Learned from the WWE Network One Year After Launch
February 24, 2015 - WWE
Within a initial 11 months, a association sealed adult some-more than 1 million subscribers who are profitable $9.99 a month to access WWE’s monthly pay-per-views, a library that includes years of episodes of TV shows like “Raw” and “SmackDown,” online usually franchises like “NXT,” and a flourishing line-up of strange series.
Getting there wasn’t easy. The association was strike by critique that it would harm a bottomline with a service, deliberation it was formerly charging around $50 or some-more for any of a 12 PPVs, including “WrestleMania,” by wire and satellite providers. WWE also was one of a initial vital party players to go directly to a fanbase with an over-the-top offering, a arrange ofproduct that a NFL, HBO and CBS has also launched or devise to as a proceed to interest to cord-cutters. Disney also has discussed identical skeleton for ESPN.
One year later, WWE’s executives have some takeaways from their network’s launch on Feb. 24, 2014 — lessons that could advantage other players looking to enter a OTT streaming business.
1. Don’t be fearful of a long, dim hallway.
In a anxiety to a line a late David Carr wrote in a New York Times column, WWE records a playbook didn’t exist for a skeleton to go direct-to-consumer with a WWE Network, though that it didn’t need to be fearful to try something new.
“We kept being told how tough it is for incumbents to innovate since they make so many income in their stream business models,” George Barrios, WWE’s arch plan and financial officer, told Variety. “For any bequest business underneath a hazard of disruption, a plea is to get from one room with all a distinction to another room where so many innovators are environment adult shop. For us, what unequivocally crystallized (the preference to launch a network) was a bravery we need to hang to your philosophy and pull through. That’s what creates people successful: a eagerness and ability to navigate a frightful hallway.”
2. Content placement is a balancing act.
While a judgment of going direct-to-consumer might put some-more financial control — and tenure — into a hands of a calm producer, companies still need partners to launch a successful service, while gripping a existent placement deals in mind, WWE stressed. “Direct-to-consumer is a destiny though we can’t scapegoat your existent deals,” pronounced Michelle Wilson, WWE’s arch income and offered officer.
“Direct-to-consumer should not come during a responsibility of other models,” Wilson added. “We are really penetrating on creation certain a calm that goes (to NBCU’s USA Network and Syfy, for example) delivers a certain value. We suffer a partnership with NBCU. We contend that partnership really delicately.”
The same is loyal for WWE’s existent PPV partners, where there are still fans that wish to buy a events, like “WrestleMania,” on wire and satellite. “We worked tough to contend those relations so (fans) still have a choice to buy on pay-per-view platforms,” Wilson said.
The network launched on around a dozen platforms, and is accessible on Samsung and Sony intelligent TVs, Microsoft’s Xbox videogame consoles, Sony’s PlayStation gaming devices, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku boxes. It’s now on 13 total.
“We’re going to continue to be really assertive and be wherever people are,” Wilson said. But in some countries where a WWE Network has rolled out, WWE didn’t have a choice though to sojourn with normal platforms. In Canada, a WWE Network is offering around Rogers Communications. In a Middle East, it’s accessible by pay-TV use OSN. “We didn’t proceed this as OTT is a usually model,” Wilson said.
WWE also indispensable to be nimble when it comes to pricing a service.
A six-month joining for a initial subscribers finished adult being altered to a per-month structure when fans objected. But in sequence to pointer adult even some-more subscribers, WWE found it indispensable to get a use in front of some-more viewers — and did so by giving divided a network for free, during durations when PPVs were being offered.
“Sampling and giveaway is a best offered apparatus there is,” Wilson said. “It wasn’t an easy review to have with (WWE authority Vince McMahon). To tell him we need to give divided a pay-per-view took some convincing. But only since we speak about (the network), doesn’t meant a fans know what it is. Fans don’t indispensably know what it is or how it works.”
3. Direct-to-consumer doesn’t meant we go it alone.
While WWE invested heavily in record to launch a network, it also partnered with Major League Baseball Advanced Media to do many of a complicated lifting.
“You’re improved off being an integrator than a builder,” Barrios pronounced of a move. “Over-the-top has a inference that you’re doing it all on your own, though we need to confederate best of multiply partners to assistance we do what we need to do to support (the distribution) of video all around a world.” While some companies are still evaluating that approach, “Our training is only since we partner, it’s still your product and your consumers,” Barrios said.
4. Know your audience.
WWE has spent a past year combing over use data, and has been astounded during how some of a fans use a service. VOD use has been aloft than it expected, for example, with a association carrying approaching many subscribers to wish to watch a live streams of a PPVs, deliberation live sporting events typically attract many sports fans. Live is still king, though two-thirds of use is for VOD programming, WWE said.
“WWE tends to live in both worlds,” Barrios pronounced — live sports and VOD-friendly TV programming. The association launched with 1,500 hours of video in a library, though now has over 3,000.
Mobile use also has been high, with 36% of a users accessing a network on tablets and smartphones, something that will foreordain destiny programming being shorter.
“That was an aha impulse for us,” Wilson said. “A lot of a fans aren’t going to watch a three-hour pay-per-view if they’re examination on their phones in between their breaks during work. Short form calm will play a incomparable role. we don’t consider we would have famous that going into this.”
In a past, WWE couldn’t get many information from a wire and satellite providers offered a PPVs. “All of a partnerships in a past have been during arm’s length,” Wilson said. “Now we have all a data.”
That info, like meaningful that 90% of a subscribers watch WWE Network programming during slightest once a week — and what that video is — enabled WWE to build teams and infrastructure that informs a decisions a association needs to make to grow a service.
“We’re still contrast and learning,” pronounced Barrios, who doesn’t omit a company’s critics. “When you’re building transformative initiatives, everything’s in a open eye. That’s only partial of doing it in a open domain. You only don’t spin a switch on and have people subscribe. It’s a lot of tough work.”
So distant so good. In further to signing adult 1 million subscribers and expanding a network’s strech around a world, a use isn’t cannibalizing a flagship shows on USA and Syfy, with ratings for a shows carrying increasing final year. Its YouTube viewership also is adult 60%.
Naturally what helped with rising a network was also carrying a support of WWE’s authority Vince McMahon, who was peaceful to risk losing millions in sequence to hopefully replenish that and some-more with a streaming use it could possess entirely. McMahon has done unsure bets in a past, including a launch of a XFL football league.
“We indispensable someone like Vince to say, ‘We’re going to do this,’” pronounced Wilson.
The WWE Network was creatively grown in 2010 as a normal wire channel, though when new digital platforms supposing an event for WWE to launch a possess streaming service, in a summer of 2013, “We knew a instruction we indispensable to go was as a direct-to-consumer network,” Wilson said.
Up subsequent are skeleton to rise new strange shows.
“We have an assertive line-up when it comes to new strange series,” Wilson said, and a association is pronounced to be looking during expanding a animation lineup after “Slam City” achieved well. Other ideas embody speak shows and array from outward partners a proceed it produces existence uncover “Total Divas,” for E!, with Bunim/Murray Prods.
Much of it “won’t be in a ring, though it will interest to a fanbase,” Wilson said.