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When Did Pro Wrestling Become So Profitable?

When Did Pro Wrestling Become So Profitable?


In the world of professional wrestling, there’s
something called a “Swerve.” ANNOUNCER: “HULK HOGAN HAS BETRAYED WCW!” Some examples: These tag team partners are
called “Baby-faces”, or the good guys. Then one of them swerves, when he super-kicks
his tag-team partner in the head, quickly assuming the role of the bad guy, or what
the wrestling world calls the “heel”. ANNOUNCER: “ARE YOU KIDDING? WHAT A DISPICABLE ACT THAT WAS!” Or a match is almost lost, when… what’s
that? The superstar wrestler appears out of nowhere
sprinting down the aisle to save the match. ANNOUNCER: “THAT’S THE WARRIOR’S MUSIC! IT’S THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR!” That’s a swerve. So it should go as no surprise that World
Wrestling Entertainment, known as the WWE, the most popular brand of sports entertainment
in the world is prepared for any swerves that come their way. So here’s the story of how the WWE learned
to see the swerve coming. So I spoke to Bloomberg reporters Felix Gillette… Gillette: I’m a writer for Bloomberg News
for the global business team. and Kim Bhasin Bhasin: And I’m the U.S. luxury reporter at
Bloomberg. To find out exactly how the WWE is positioning
itself for an all-out global invasion. Which starts with a massive change to their
lucrative pay-per-view model. Gillette: WWE basically pioneered the pay-per-view
model on cable. I remember as a kid when the pay-per-view
events came up all of our friends would scramble around and try and get one of the parents
to, to pay for it. But in 2014, they took a HUGE risk. Gillette: They saw a little bit sooner than
some of the other entertainment brands that where this whole thing was moving was away
from cable and satellite television, and towards on demand streaming video apps. Gillette: They made this risky decision in
essence cannibalizing that pay-per-view model, which they had essentially built. And after some early turbulence it’s working. Roughly 1.5 million people are paying a $9.99
a month for the WWE app, making it the fifth-most
popular streaming OTT service. This “adapt or die” approach is in the WWE’s
DNA. Over the past 30 years the company always
seems to think two steps ahead. In the early 90s… Bhasin: WWE was at its most threatened when
Ted Turner took them on with WCW Which stands for World Championship Wrestling. And back then, the WCW was winning the ratings
war. So in order to compete with them… Bhasin: WWE had changed its product from a
family-friendly kind of cartoonish style to this really raw, that’s why they called their show RAW. It was this raw style of wrestling. with violent, outrageous reality inspired
plotlines and aggressive personas. ANNOUNCER: “FROM A 16 FOOT LADDER!” Bhasin: And they won that fight against Ted
Turner. And they bought WCW. The early 2000s ushered in an era of testosterone-driven
programming aimed at the red-blooded American male… Bhasin: Bra and panties matches and people
smashing each other over the head with like barbed wire bats and things like that. Until 2015 when WWE fans started a hashtag
#GiveDivasAChance. Since then, WWE hired 40 more female wrestlers. And that growing cast of female characters
was part of a much larger plan. Bhasin: They started to try to appeal to a
broader set of people. Gillette: Let’s attract more female fans. And after we’ve attracted more female fans,
let’s attract more international fans They’re broadening their base and
they’re doing that in large part to make it more advertiser friendly. And not just friendly to advertisers… Gillette: They’re trying to build up their
fan base in China, they’re trying to build up their fan base in Europe, they you know
already have a pretty good fan base in India. Bhasin: India is a place where they already
have an established wrestling culture. Because of the gigantic Indian wrestler The
Great Kali. But there’s still a lot of work to do. While the WWE set a revenue record in 2017,
only 30% of it is coming from overseas audience. And there’s one person whose responsibility
is to grow that number. Bhasin: The buck eventually stops at Vince
McMahon no matter what’s happening within WWE. Gillette: Yeah, he’s a very controlling guy,
and it’s a very, very, very tightly scripted company. Bhasin: And that goes down the board to big
stars’ entrance music, and their outfits and things like that. So with a CEO like McMahon always planning
two moves ahead and an aggressive push into multiple international
markets, a big issue… is money. Gillette: It’s hard to do all those things
simultaneously without committing a huge amount of capital to it. And that’s where the WWE becomes an attractive
company for buyers. Gillette: Potentially one thing that could
happen with WWE is they could benefit by being acquired by a bigger technology or telecom
company. An Amazon, or a Facebook, or a 21st Century
Fox. So with a market cap of $2.8 billion, the
advantage of owning 100% of their own content, and a rapid consolidation spreading throughout
the entertainment industry, it looks like the WWE is well positioned, even if there are
swerves ahead.

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26 thoughts on “When Did Pro Wrestling Become So Profitable?

  1. Im sorry but their marketing can expand all they like, the Fan Base here in The U.S. is over. Old School Die hard Fans like me did not like the changes they did. The neglect of Talented Wrestlers was too much. The WWE will not survive the coming years.

  2. Brock Lesnar is going to visit Bloomberg headquaters in New York after Westermania ..He will be presenting the opening bell😅😅😅😅😂😂😂😂😅😅😅😅😂😂😂😂😅😁😁😅

  3. Everyone is talking about how NJPW is really big too, but I don't see it becoming bigger than WWE is anytime soon. Maybe ever….

  4. People ask me why I still watch wrestling. Why wouldn’t you watch wrestling. There’s something there for everyone. From the business side, to the athletes, to the history, the entire company makes for compelling stories and events that you want to tune in for.

  5. With The Notorious throwing chairs and ladders on professional fighters, UFC will take over sooner than you know.

  6. i know you lots condemning WWE and thinking who still watches WWE? for reasons such as its fake, its too much this or too less that. But as an ol timer who watched WWE during the attitude era till the early 2000s. Last WWE i followed was during 2008, I think those people who still watched WWE knows that its fake but they enjoyed it nevertheless. My point is, maybe people watched it for the enjoyment and entertainment, hence the the entertainment in the WWE.

  7. WWE was pretty popular in India way before Great Khali came on the show. And here in India, the majority of the viewers and fans are school-aged kids who tend to fade out of interest when they grow up. It was way better when it really was "raw".

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