WWE’s Stephanie McMahon hints at strategy to enhance worldwide growth
At the Leaders in Sport summit in London this week there were plenty of recognisable names in sport present to talk all things sports business.
WWE chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon was one of those names, and she gave a short public interview where Digital Sport’s own Dan McLaren was present to take in a few of her thoughts.
Perhaps the most interesting of which was about the partnerships that the WWE is creating, and how the sport is aiming to grow its audience worldwide with the use of some clever tactics.
“International growth is huge for WWE, 70% of our viewership is outside of the US, but only 30% of the revenue. There is of course brand building because it’s incredibly important for people to be aware of your brand, to have the right kinds of partnerships to be able to continue that growth.”
The name is already recognisable the world over, but partnerships seem to be the biggest way the sport can see itself growing in new areas. The star power that it has always had can be combined with a similar star power from other areas. That was the impression left when McMahon was asked whether it was it was hard to convince former Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney to come to a WWE event in the UK and take part in the evening’s entertainment, slapping wrestler Wade Barrett.
“You assume it’s hard to convince Wayne Rooney to come to a WWE show and actually slap a WWE superstar across the face and get that crowd reaction are you kidding?! I think a lot of times we’re more turning people down than we are necessarily trying to convince them, but pop culture is a huge part of our strategy, whether it’s casting our stars outside of our programming or it’s bringing outside celebrities and athletes into our programming because the rising tide just raises all boats in terms of audience awareness
That might also take the form of including other athletes into the sport itself. Recently, MMA has taken a greater place in the world’s sporting consciousness, and Conor McGregor – who recently tried his hand at boxing – is someone who McMahon believes would fit in well at WWE.
“Conor McGregor would certainly be a perfect fit for WWE,” she said. “He certainly has the personality athletic ability,, the appeal, he speaks his mind, he is very genuine and authentic and he has a hell of a Vince McMahon swagger.”
Despite that, however, UFC isn’t seen as a threat to McMahon, certainly no more than any other sport, she says.
“MMA really isn’t competition to us. It is in terms of everything else that’s out there in the same timeslot, but now all media and sports are properties and really what they’re competing for is share of time, so MMA hasn’t necessarily posed that much more of a threat to us more than anything else”
As always, we’ll be seeing more of a crossover between WWE stars and pop culture stalwarts like Hollywood movies, and athletes and celebrities joining in with WWE in the future. But perhaps some more long-term crossovers, like a move for Conor McGregor, could be on the cards too.
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