WWE’s chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon joined Bloomberg Business of Sports to talk WWE’s move to NBC’s Peacock streaming service. During the interview, she documented WWE’s journey through the streaming landscape.
“Vince’s perspective has always been to be slightly ahead of the curve,” Stephanie said. “You never want to be behind. So that’s why we were one of the first, five years ago, to launch our streaming service, the WWE Network. We did learn a lot from that time. Actually we were actually pretty far down the pike negotiating a linear deal. But our almost partners wanted to lock up our rights for about ten years. It was just a real long time, so we decided to take a step back and do deeper research.
“We learned that our fans were consuming five times more online video than average. So we thought ‘let’s control our own destiny.’ And we doubled down and within eight months we launched WWE Network. We learned a lot, pivoted a lot and we tried to make the best service we could. But again, we’re always looking at the media landscape and it’s constantly evolving and shifting. The pandemic clearly sped up digital consumption, but even prior to that we were already having conversations with different partners.
“We’re not a technology company. I think we did a remarkable job, but that’s not who we are at our core. That’s not our level of expertise. What we are is incredible content creators. So we wanted to find the best partner we could, and NBCU has been our partner for almost thirty years. They have this incredible service (Peacock) and we’re so happy to launch this week.”
The conversation then turned to how WWE has evolved over the years. For that Stephanie credited her father, WWE owner Vince McMahon.
“It’s really remarkable when you think about our history and what Vince accomplished,” Stephanie stated. “Think about what he’s done. He took what was a regional business and had the vision to go around and create one organization, nationally and the ultimately globally.
“My father saw the opportunity for syndication; he saw the opportunity for advertising. Ultimately he saw the opportunity to really create something that had never risen to the level of popularity it had never been.”
Later Stephanie was asked about how Vince McMahon’s vision of WWE be presented when the Chairman of WWE finally steps down. She indicated it would be a group effort.
“I do think a lot of the institutional knowledge is important, particularly with regards toward the core content,” Stephanie said. “But it’s also surrounding our business with strong, smart executives. And that’s exactly what we have. So I do think it’s the marriage of institutional knowledge, the incredible production value, the creation of talent IP and storylines and really strong business executives to help us expand. I think it’s a combination of things.
“I don’t think there will ever be a person to person replacement for Vince McMahon. He does too much. The landscape would look different however it shakes out. But I think it’s a marriage of those things.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Bloomberg Business of Sports and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription