Thursday, April 09, 2015

WWE 2015 Business Partner Summit

WWE held their 2015 Business Partner Summit presentation on Saturday, March 28.

The show's hosts were Triple H & Stephanie McMahon. They were introduced with a graphic noting they were "The Authority". Throughout the show, Paul Levesque was always referred to as "Triple H" as opposed to his real name under his corporate role as Executive Vice President, Talent, Live Events & Creative.

The event opens with HHH & Stephanie explaining that WWE has five core pillars:
  1. Pro-Social
  2. Fan Engagement
  3. Multicultural
  4. Innovation
  5. Family Friendly
(It's interesting that these are WWE's five pillars, but I can't even find a single thing on their corporate website listing them.)

Throughout the event, WWE awarded six partners - one representing each pillar and one to the overall business partner of the year. The winners were:

Award #1: Pro-Social = Special Olympics
Award #2: Fan Engagement = General Mills Totino's "Show Us Your Superstar"
Award #3: MultiCultural Partner of the Year: Ad Council - Impact of Fatherhood
Award #4: Innovation - Award #4: Rogers
Award #5: Family Friendly : Kraft Capri-Sun

Some of the awards involved unique winning envelope presenters including Scooby Doo, a Mountie, Titus O'Neil and a giant pizza roll that looked like a Pop-tart.

In between the awards, various WWE executives presented their divisional pitches.

First up was Michelle Wilson and George Barrios.

They said that 2014 was a "a year for the record books". Obviously, their big point to sell was how great the WWE Network was.


They talked about how WWE was the "first major franchise to take their video content direct to consumers with both live programming as well as a massive video-on-demand library." They also love to insinuate that the spate of new OTT (over-the-top) services launching soon are just "following suit" (CBS, HBO, Nick).

"That's right, We were first. More important than being first was why we did it. Innovation is in our blood." - George Barrios

Barrios characterized it as WWE was willing to take their pay-per-view business ("a 30-year staple of WWE") and "evolve it into a significant global growth".

WWE achieved one million subscribers in just 11 months while Major League Baseball took 7 years. (It's worth noting that MLB Advanced Media was founded in June 2000 so it was really at the forefront of sports internet subscription services. I imagine HBO Online is going to shatter WWE's record for subscriber acquisition when it launches. George was also sure to mention that he loves Major League Baseball, which I'm sure it just music to Vince's ears.)

Barrios noted that the WWE Network is "available in 177 countries." His tagline is "From Canada to Cambodia, U.K. to Uganda, Mexico to Malta."

They promoted their subscriber satisfaction and weekly viewership at 90%. Luckily, there was no mention of the outlandish WWE Affinity studies for once.

There was this claim: "WrestleMania 30 was watched by a Record One Million US Households. That was the first time that WrestleMania ever eclipsed this milestone domestically."

They're talking about a Press Release that was sent out on April 15, 2014.

A few things to note:
  • They're combining traditional pay-per-view and WWE Network subscriptions. 
  • There were many WWE Network subscribers who were signed up for the domestic service, but actually lived overseas.
  • Several WrestleMania have achieved more than a million traditional PPV buys (at much higher costs) worldwide. WWE Network was available for only $9.99 and only garned 667,287 subscriptions for WrestleMania 30.
  • WrestleMania 31 had 1.315M WWE Network subscribers.
In discussing programming on the WWE Network, the shows highlighted were the Monday Night Wars, Countdown, the Stone Cold Podcast, NXT and Slam City.

WWE repeated their "more households watching the PPVs" talking point with their example with Night of Champions. See the materials from the Q3 2014 Conference Call for more information.

As for new features on the WWE Network, Barrios highlighted adding "Resume Play" and "Watchlist" features.

What's left to come on the WWE Network? Three things were promised:
A. Recommendations
B. Playlists
C. Social Integration
Barrios also mentioned the possibility of adding a "gaming module", whatever that really means.

WWE is also launching eight new series which was discussed on their 3/30 press release.

For Barrios & Wilson, the biggest financial win in 2014 was renegotiation of the domestic and international television contracts. Interestingly the exact phrase used was "nearly doubled the value of our content globally." That's certainly an improvement, but it falls short of the "three times" multipler from the BSkyB deal (as reported by the Hollywood Reporter).

(For more on the 2014 Television deals, see my article "Key Takeaways from the WWE's 2014 Annual Report".)

Special attention was paid to Total Divas. I was a bit surprised by the claim that "three million women watched every week in the US". (That's obviously a skewed statistic that involves adding in all of the people who watch the show and reruns for a few minutes over the course of several days.)

As for Mobile gaming, WWE launched WWE Supercard "(most successful WWE casual
game ever launched") and WWE Immortals.

In Canada,

That brings us to social and digital media. 446 million social followers. 16 million WWE App downloads. 3.5 Billion YouTube views. Big numbers, if even they don't explain what they're doing with it. (This section also provided a moment where Michelle Wilson corrects Barrios, who said "3.5 Million views". Barrios retorts that she never listens to him so he was just testing her.)

Domestic TV

WWE is embracing the NBCUniversal Brand Positioning: ""For the Hero in all of US."

They are also "very excited that Tough Enough will be returning to USA Network in June."  There will be an all new format with live weekly content and unprecedented role for social media.

India/ China

Targeted Mobile Products suitable for markets like India
Continue "go to market strategies suited for those countries" - plan to allow fans to engage with the show all week long.

New Ventures

Constantly looking at growth opportunity and innovative ways to partner with you
We recently joint venture with Authentic Brand Group (ABG) to  relaunch TapouT (Apperal
Phunware - award winning mobile platform app developer that helps fans engage & monetize users on devices.

Relaunch TapouT in 2016.

Creating Virtual Reality Content.

 Looking at new live content.

Building new verticals in the digital space. Partnerships.
We keep our audience engaged through many platforms including Studios.
Fans get excited when they go see a film and spot the WWE logo in the credits.
HHH mentions that his youngest daughter wants to marry John Cena because of the Scooby Doo film.


Michael Luisi thanks "Stephanie & Triple H". (No Paul here, I Guess!)
Started w/ 2 picture deal with Lion Gate in 2012. Success became a tag team that is 9 pictures strong. (His words.)

TARGET? Action & Horror films. African American & Hispanic audiences. Multicultural.
Pictures w/ Fox. Marine: still going strong with fourth installment in April.

Partnership with Warner Bros. has grown five fold. (Christmas Bounty, Scooby Doo WM, Flintsone, Stone Age and new Scooby Doo movie in 2016).
2014 was "our most successful year ever". (Let's remember they only made $500k OIBDA in 2014.)

2015 Slate:
Instead, The Miz interrupts.

#1: Killing Hasslehoff (Hasslehoff, Ken Jeong, Hulk Hogan)
#2: PlumHouse/Universal - Aaron Eckhard (Mark Henry cameo)
#3: The Marrine 4: Moving Target (The Miz, Summer Rae)
Michael Luisi yells at the screen. SIGH.

Flintstones & WWE "Stone Age" SmackDown.

DVD is in the giftbags.

End of Luisi presentation.


EVP Consumer Products: Casey Collins

Good Morning Partners
WWE Consumer Products long history of success across multiple products.
Innovative Products that put smiles on people's faces.
Share that innovation with you.
Always been a leader in Video Games. We took a deep dive in the gaming space to develop a long-term strategy. Best in class game publishers & developers.
Partners in 2K - console game partner.
Next generation of video games has arrived. WWE 2k15 ushered in

A whole new era of video games.

"Research clearly showed that our fans over-index in playing games on their mobile devices."

Knowing this, we quickly moved to deliver a variety of high-quality options: WWE Supercard (hard-hitting, larger than life action to your mobile device in a brand-new card action game), new partnership with WB Interactive Entertainment & Neverworld WWE Immortals (action-packed mobile experience, 8 million installs). Reviews have been great. Whole new WWE franchise.

Home Entertainment

Important category: 325 DVD titles since 2001. WrestleMania as the "#1 Sports Home Video" title.
New partnership with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment "clear category leader today"
Powerful retail distribution - expand physical & digital distribution to connect with our fans.

Blue-chip partners include Mattel: worldwide leader of mfgr of toys.
2014 was another "Stellar" year.

WWE was once again top selling brand: Star Wars, Spider-Man, Batman.
New line? Create a Superstar line.

StackDown brings WWE into the "construction aisle" which is the "fastest growing segment of the toy business". Build, Customize any environment associated with any superstar.

We're taken more of a "collection approach" to our superstar merchandise.
Core merchandise who is our core website visitor: who is 18 to 34 year old male.

Best example: WrestleMania Superstore at the San Jose
Convention Center. "12,500 Square Feet; Largest Collection of WWE Merchandise under one Roof."

New WWE EuroShop: 27 countries/Authentic

Buy authentic WWE products. Continued growth in Europe.
Localized language & currency capabilities.


WWE Shop Express: Brand new way to incorporate technology into arena business. Skip long lines and buy merchandise from their seats.
Fast, Easy, Convenient.

Talks about ABG/TapouT partnership.

Exciting new fitness brand.
Coming in 2016
Relaunching in 2016 - Hardbody Fitness Brand. Training & agonizing preparation
Fitness Apparel Space

Ends his presentation.


Each one takes a global view for their businesses and allign with regional opportunities
When all parts are working together, that's when they unleash the full potential of the WWE.

Role of WWE International is to embrace Global Diversity.
Bridge cultural and economic and poltiical differences.

Show apprecation for the unique priviledge to be part of their lives.


Transformational Growth.

Our business outside of the US will become the largest engine for the growth over the next 3 years.

8 international offices: Dubai, London, Mexico, Mumbai, Munich, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo and additional resources in Brazil & Korea.

WWE is always relatable- everywhere to everyone.

Rogers media exemplifies this best.

ProSieben in Germany launched on MaxDome
WWE embraces & reflects your culture

Give example: 150 Activations in 11 days. (WHAT?)

"WWE transcends many boundaries that many other brands cannot."

We can work with you to grow our business in any way you can imagine.
Why is this important? Fan engagement.

More than a website, more than any event, it's a pro-social event.


We took it to the next level with many of you as our partners.

Let's keep it going.
(Former Spotify exec.)

Social Media give sour fans a voice, evne when they're not at the arena.we use all of these platforms to deliver a creative experience to our fans.

4.2 Billion YouTube views in the past 12 months (#1 Sports Channel beating NBA, NFL, ESPN, NBA, MLB). Steph milks it for applause.

More likes on FaceBook than NIKE, NFL, ESPN (or NFL teams combined)

"Average 23 Global Trends per Monday Night"

Drive fans and keep them involved.

WWE Performance Center

"I love that campaign. Makes me want to talk about my Baby.... the WWE Performance Center." - HHH

Performance Center / Revolutionary Talent Development Program
State of the art facility that serves as a breeding ground for next generation of Superstars.
Encompasses all fassets of what we do. One of the world's best rehab centers. Various inhouse studios allow talent to perfect their characters.
Strength & Conditioning Facility. Better, stronger, faster strong, healthier.

Athletes from around the world including Rugby and Indian Kadabbi.

In 2014, over 300 candidates from 9 countries tried out. 27 were signed to developmental contracts with a chance to pursue their dreams.

Performance Center

Events (NXT)
Content Creation (Totino's)
Home Videos (HHH Workout Video)
Video Games & Live Specials
Pro-social activations

WWE is poised to create some of the most elite Superstars & Divas of all time with.
Find 60-100 wrestlers. 17 coaches and medical staff.
NXT is the WWE show featuring future of the WWE now. Shot with our partners at Full Sail University. Real world approach to learning. Full Sail provides the facility and the students. NXT also serves as an innovation lab for WWE production and partner integration.

NXT is Broadcast in over 100 countries. NXT is an "alternative brand". First live special on the WWE Network. NXT social media, E:60 behind the scenes special, new merchandise for NXT stars. Only using social media for promotion, NXT successfully promoted three events outside of FL. NXT stars have taken over Raw & SmackDown (Adam Rose, Emma, Rusev)

"Witness the Now, Witness the Evolution & Revolution of WWE, Witness NXT."

Tomorrow night at WrestleMania, every single match on that card will have a performer from the Performance Center & NXT (except one match).

Tomorrow night our next speaker will go toe-to-toe with the evil Russian Character Rusev.

Cena comes out.

"I love this weekend. I love everything about this weekend. I love everything that this weekend embodies."

John Cena has to thank George Barrios especially because he apparently forgot to do so last year.

WWE is making a conscious effort to increase distribution in China. Cena speaks Chinese.

"Last year, I stood up here in a different rainbow coordinated  outfit - thank you Licensees.. and I issued a challenge and  asked that we could do what we do best which is run. Bring us  new, exciting, out-of-the-box. Thank you, I'm very impressed."

WWE has used all of WWE's brand pillars and assets to increase  their business... Scooby Doo shows up.


(They love WB so much compared to how toxic the relationship with Cinedigm got at the end.)

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