WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon recently appeared on the Bill Simmons podcast to hype up this weekend’s WrestleMania 37 pay per view and talk all things WWE, including how scary it was to launch the network back in 2014 and how they took a chance on themselves even though they had a partner who was willing to back them. Highlights are below.
How scary it was to launch the WWE Network back in 2014:
We started looking at it before the pandemic, maybe even two years ago, we started looking at the space. It’s funny because my dad has always taught me that you have to stay slightly ahead of the curve. You never want to be so far ahead that people can’t get it and you never want to be behind, you want to be slightly ahead. When you looked at the landscape and see these big-time players start to make moves, big-time players with a lot of capital that could be invested in technology and infrastructure. We’re not a technology company, we’re a content company. It was a smart move for us to launch [in 2014], and it was scary.
Says they had a partner that wanted to lock up their rights for 10 years, so they launched the network instead:
We actually had a linear deal. Our fans all said they wanted a WWE channel and we started working on a linear deal. We were in redline, but the partner wanted to lock up our rights for 10 years. Vince doesn’t do 10-year deals, at least he wouldn’t at that time. He took a step back, we did more research, and we found our audience was five times more likely to watch online videos than the norm. We decided right then and there that we would own our own destiny. In eight months, we launched the WWE Network, which is pretty unheard of.
WrestleMania 37 will be available on traditional pay per view on the Peacock service. (H/T and transcribed by Fightful)