Stephanie McMahon recently did an interview with Multichannel News in London during the WWE’s European tour. You can check out some of the highlights here:
What has propelled WWE’s strong performance in 2016 and thus far in 2017?
First of all, we have, you know, one of the best executive teams that we have had in a very long time. When you consider the fact that the WWE has grown into a $729 million business, things are working for us.
Nearly 30% of that revenue came from our international business, so that means our international expansion is working. In 2010 nearly 30% of our business was direct-to-consumer, and today it’s more than 50 percent, so our direct-to-consumer strategy is certainly working. In 2010, 6% of our business was digital, and today it’s more than 30%, so again it’s our businesses itself and the people driving it. They are laser-focused on our different strategies for growth, whether that be content and our tiered ecosystem, or sales and sponsorship.
But ultimately the secret sauce is truly our fan base. Our fans cheer, they boo, they chant … they actually help influence what happens in the ring. A lot of what we do is improv, and that’s where the performance art aspect comes in. Without our fan base, we don’t have a show, and that’s one of the reasons why social media has been so strong for WWE. We have over 780 million social media followers, which means their engagement with us continues outside of the ring. From a business standpoint we’re able to utilize the data analytics that we get from the WWE Network, from social media, from live events and even from merchandise sales to help influence the direction of our content and super-serve our audience.
What are the greatest challenges facing the WWE going forward?
Well, I think the opportunities are the same as the challenges. From a technology standpoint we want to be able to offer fans everything that they’re asking for, and the biggest frustration comes when the technology just isn’t there yet to do it. But we’re constantly driving and pushing our partners to help make sure that that happens. Again, serving the appetite of our audience is really our greatest opportunity as well as our greatest challenge, because the more we provide them the hungrier they get.
Are you concerned at all about competition within the wrestling category given the proliferation of pro-wrestling content in the marketplace?
Well I think imitation is the truest form of flattery, but I don’t think the viewership with some of those other organizations at this point is competition for us. If anything I think it just drives more interest in the genre itself. When you look at reality shows like Total Divas or Total Bellas, and when you look at films like our partnership with MGM for [theatrical film] Fighting With My Family, the story of [WWE wrestler] Paige’s life, I think we’re really just scratching the surface of the deeper stories that these individuals, as well as their characters, have to tell.