evolving business

Sting WWE

  • The WWE has already arrived where many TV companies aspire to go: it’s built a successful subscription streaming product without undercutting its traditional channels.
  • The wrestling brand has had to ramp up its data chops to better its programming and sell merchandise.
  • “We’re ahead of the curve,” said WWE CMO Michelle Wilson.

Suddenly, it seems every big TV player — led by ESPN — is contemplating the launch of paid subscription services, and they may look to any unlikely rival for inspiration. When it comes to running a direct-to-consumer streaming offering, the WWE has a four-year head start.

Business Insider caught up with the WWE’s chief marketing officer Michelle Wilson at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas this week to talk about the future of media delivery in an “over the top” world, what it means for a media company to become a data and tech company, and what advertising will look like in a few years.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Mike Shields: You guys are seemingly at the forefront of where a lot of the TV industry, particularly sports, seem to want to go, in terms of having a subscription streaming product.

Michelle Wilson: It’s kind of crazy that we made our announcement four years ago at CES. We were definitely ahead of the curve. At the time it was just Netflix and Hulu that were out there. Obviously we’ve had a long history of success with paid television as a way to reach the broadest audience around the world. We love paid television. But as we were looking at digital and social platforms that were emerging, it started to occur to us that there’s another way to reach our fan base, particularly younger consumers. We had pay-per-view events that were $60 each, and they Read More Here