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WWE learns from Netflix

News, 08 July 2015

NEW YORK: World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has developed a major new revenue stream by creating a direct-to-consumer online video service that is intended to become like "Netflix, but for wrestling".

George Barrios, WWE's chief strategy/financial officer, discussed this subject at the INMA World Congress 2015 in New York.

And he reported that WWE Network – its over-the-top video service, which is available on 14 digital platforms including Microsoft's Xbox and Apple TV – had taken a leaf from Netflix's playbook.

For $9.99 a month, subscribers can view WWE's live events, alongside a broad slate of original content and thousands of hours of on-demand archive material.

As WWE fans are twice as likely to subscribe to services like Netflix as the general population, many were already familiar with the specifics of online streaming.

"We thank those guys all the time ... because they really did the spade work in making this easy and making it normal for everyone," said Barrios. (For more, including details the strategic insights leveraged by the brand, read Warc's exclusive report: WWE flexes its digital muscles.)

Having attracted over a million subscribers since launching in early 2014, this "big bet" for WWE has certainly paid off.

"In 13 months, we took it from zero to our second-largest business and by far our fastest-growing business," said Barrios.

And WWE Network has also further expanded the organisation's already extensive portfolio of operations, which spans everything from pay TV to action figures.

"I always tell people that the archetype is like a mini-Disney," said Barrios. "We create intellectual property – whether it's stars or TV shows – and then we monetise it across a variety of platforms: advertising, licensing to television networks, consumer products ... [and] live events.

"If there's a platform in media and entertainment, we're on it, and we're monetising."

Data sourced from Warc