With wrestling distribution constantly shifting, such as Impact's weekly program running on traditional television on the Pursuit Channel and also airing concurrently on its Twitch channel, and MLW's weekly program airing on its YouTube channel a day after it runs on beIN SPORTS, I've spoken with Matthew Ryan, co-owner of Capitol Wrestling, to better understand distribution in 2019. (In full disclosure, I am working with Capitol to help expand their distribution on traditional television and digital platforms).
To introduce some readers who may not be familiar, what is Capitol Wrestling all about and what do you think sets you apart that has helped you to near your milestone of 100 episodes?
"Capitol Wrestling is built upon the idea of being the 'new wave' of professional wrestling. From our roster, on-camera talent, production, direction, and creative, we are looking to cultivate the future stars of the industry utilizing some of the brightest minds around. What has set Capitol apart is our presentation. Our director Zane Decker has set the standard for modern wrestling television, as we combine old-school storytelling, with vignettes and character development based on classical television ideals."
It seemed just before the new year, you announced a flurry of digital distribution deals. Tell us about your partnerships new and old?
"Our current partnerships have led to Capitol being viewed by 1.3 million people at minimum in 2018 through our partnership with Twitch. We value cross-platform growth because each platform has their own unique audience and identity that matches our own. FITE is built around some of the biggest combat sports brand in the world and thrives off fresh weekly content that viewers can watch with ease. Twitch is built on personalities and brands that relate to younger viewers, hence our pivot to Twitch in late 2017 and our subsequent time on the front page creating the traction it did over the summer.
"Our developing relationship with Anthem's Global Wrestling Network showcases our embracing of partnerships within the industry. During pro wrestling's territory era, partnerships and promotional exchanges were a key to growth and sustainability across the board, and as the currency develops from just talent, to talent, creative/production resources, as well as viewership platforms, we feel this is a step in the right direction. Also, our two 24/7 networks through Zenither and Giniko USA, allow fans to view Capitol Wrestling within a vacuum and get fully immersed in our company's identity, ethos, and personality."
What sets a distribution partner apart as advantageous for you? Do you think there is a crossover in viewers or each stands apart?
"We feel that FITE is a true platform to kickstart our programming week because of its size, its accessibility, but the emphasis on it is happening now. The same can be said for Twitch, which leverages itself to an afternoon or evening watch instead of during a variation of prime time."
Are there certain platforms where you've gained the most traction or viewers? Do you have any 'rankings' or numbers to share?
"While we're still gathering numbers on a few of our platforms, Twitch had us on their front page for the better part of two months, and it allowed us to be seen by millions of eyes each week and allow for dynamic engagement. We were able to knock on the front door of Twitch and be seen at the same level of AAA, Impact Wrestling, and House of Hardcore, which is an awesome feeling for us and our roster."
What should other wrestling promoters keep in mind when distributing content through a variety of platforms?
"How do you want to streamline it? Keeping track of the distribution and what goes where. It's built on scheduling and what is right for your brand. If you feel your product would be better suited for Highspots than Independent Wrestling (FKA Powerbomb), or you feel that direct engagement on FB live (which we also do every Wednesday at 1 pm), then make that the start of your programming week."
We've strategized together on distributing your programming on more traditional television (which has aired in New York, Illinois and Minnesota). What do you think the value is in being on traditional television?
"Television will always be valuable as an optic. TV in all circles is seen as 'making it,' even with the news of AEW, the focus is where on television you'll be able to see it instead of what digital distribution outlet they'll be on. It is important to advertisers, important to older fans who want to view it on actual TV, and important to fans who want to rally around something they view as 'big.'"
As a company that runs regular tapings in the New York / New Jersey market, what feedback do you receive from fans in how they found you?
"A lot of it is word of mouth, social media, our streaming platforms obviously help, but it's still a person-to-person business at our level, so you're focus is on getting the family down the street as much as the hardcore wrestling fan."
Where do you think the business is going in terms of distribution? Will there be more platforms? Will there be more aggregators? Will distribution be something else entirely?
"There will be new forms of distribution, the cycle of media intake we have now will change, the way we watched television ten years ago, even five years ago has drastically changed. So, I expect that to be an ever-evolving facet of the business and our culture at large."
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