Marketing & Advertising

WWE Disrupts for the Future

Overview At CES® 2020, I met WWE’s George Barrios and Stephanie McMahon, who joined us at the show to highlight the strategic and organizational moves the company has made and how they’re leading the industry.

At CES 2014, WWE announced that it was moving into over-the-top (OTT) content delivery and streaming.

This past January, six years later, I sat down with WWE Co-President George Barrios to discuss how that pivot propelled WWE’s growth.I also had the chance to hear from WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon about other areas where the organization is driving positive change.

I’m excited to bring to light the many ways WWE has shown that leading change can be positive for a company.

 

Disrupting a Successful Model

During our fireside chat at CES 2020, George shared how, in the last 10 years, WWE has steadily transformed to a digital-first media business. And it’s only growing after launching its direct-to-consumer service at CES 2014.

What led WWE’s success with its big move was a new business model that exemplifies what innovation really means. Though the plan was different from traditional TV services — and therefore carried a certain risk — WWE took the leap and built a tiered content platform system that helped them cater to their most passionate fans and still garner global viewers.

It was a tough decision, particularly with such a public organization, but George highlighted how the grit of the team pushed the new business through to its takeoff.

“Stick the course. If you’ve done the homework and you believe, push through,” he said.

 

Building a Brand from the Beginning

I also asked George to talk about how social media has helped WWE build its brand. He spoke about how the organization’s ability to reach fans around the world at any hour is critical for the business.

WWE started early, he said, even when the beginnings of digital content was still focused on cute cat videos. By building a connection with their fans from the very beginning, the team attracted a loyal base that counted on them for good content.

At WWE, the digital content role reports directly to the CEO. This shows that content is a major priority.

 

CMO Inspired

I had the pleasure to see Stephanie speak on the CES 2020 CMO Insights stage about the hidden diversity dividend. On the panel, she talked about what diversity means at WWE, and the journey that the organization has taken to champion diversity and inclusion.

Stephanie shared how the #GiveDivasaChance hashtag that fought for more show time in the WWE for women led to the re-launch of a program as the official Women’s Division. In addition, the WWE team is showcasing more highlight reels and Plays of the Week focused on women athletes.

I was also inspired by some internal steps they are taking.

“Hiring women on [our CTO’s team] has been something that he’s recognized,” she said. “And the strength of his team, when you have women and men and people of color — the more diverse your teams are, I think the better decisions as a company you’re going to be able to make in terms of representation.”

WWE made the big, bold decisions that have led them to where they are in the market today, and George forecasted that the video content ecosystem will keep growing, the live and experiential market will expand, and more global growth will happen outside the U.S.

I’m excited to see how WWE continues to advance in the coming years and what more our industry can learn from the WWE team.


Watch the full interview with George Barrios and catch the "Hidden Diversity Dividend" panel.

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