This is hardly the first foray into the Madison Avenue ring for the wrestling circuit. But compared to 2019, the last time Upfront was held in person, WWE will point to even more evidence of its stature as a sponsor magnet. streaming Era.
In NBCU’s presentation to advertisers at Radio City Music Hall on Monday morning, WWE Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair and WWE Superstar The Miz are both due to speak. Universal/WWE Champion Roman Reigns and WWE Superstar Charlotte Flair will be two of the five Fox Sports personalities in attendance at Fox’s afternoon event in Skylight on Vesey.
The activity follows the company’s strong quarterly financial report earlier this month, which showed a 27% increase in overall revenue as live events returned after the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. With WWE’s 2021 licensing deal Peacock, which integrates programming from the stand-alone WWE Network into NBCU’s service, is also showing signs of traction. While NBCU and parent Comcast hold most of the data to the vest, WWE said the 38th edition of their flagship WrestleMania Last month’s event saw a 61% increase in viewership compared to 2021 and was Peacock’s second most-watched live event after Super Bowl LVI. During WrestleMania Over the weekend, a third of all Peacock accounts (which would be over 9 million based on Comcast’s latest tally of 28 million) watched WWE content.
WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon told Deadline in an interview that the company’s trademark mix of sports and entertainment offers distinct benefits. “It’s really both,” she said. “It’s like athletic theatre. It’s story, so you care…. You’re swept up in the stories. We can script buzzer-beater moments, we can script Hail Marys. Our foot on the game … you can object to what we’ve done, but you’re never going to get bored.”
The Peacock appearance draws on decades of chart-topping TV ratings and 52-weeks-per-year credibility, a rare combination in the world of secular decline and cord-cutting. NBCU and WWE first reached an agreement in 1993 Monday night Raw on USA Network.
In 2019, smack down reportedly came to Fox in a five-year deal worth more than $1 billion, while raw re-emerged in the United States. According to WWE, deals for the longest-running cable show in primetime represented a nearly four-fold increase in rights fees.
Super Bowl telecasts likely to get call-outs during the upfronts. NBCU has moved WWE to its sports division in terms of sales, a move that gave it additional incentive to promote WrestleMania During last February’s Super Bowl. Fox will air the next Super Bowl in February and is likely to implement its Friday night ratings highlights and other integrations of WWE talent.
A scripted project in the works involves both WWE media partners. Fox Sports personality Tom Rinaldi, familiar to audiences for his many high-profile interviews at major sporting events, is executive producer of the scripted drama series pinned, a behind-the-scenes show about a fictional wrestling promotion. NBCU is developing it CSI: Vegas And MacGyver Veterinarian Craig O’Neill is on board to write.
McMahon said the company never looked back after deciding to exit the owned-and-operated streaming game and join Peacock. “We were ahead of the curve when we launched WWE Network, and we were a little ahead of the curve when we decided to license our content,” she said. “As we’re seeing with Netflix and Disney, it’s not an easy business … content really is king.”
In terms of enticing brands, McMahon said the company thrives by being “in both the sports live action business and the scripted entertainment business”. People say, ‘Oh, you’ve got to be defined in one bucket or another.’ … but think about ESPN, what does that first letter represent? entertainment.”
McMahon maintained, in addition to traditional ad inventory, pulling off integrations comes more naturally given the hybrid situation.
“Whenever you watch a game, it’s very chaotic,” she said of normal sports broadcasts. “WWE is able to do differently.”
He cited partnership with Netflix for 2021 film release army of the dead, “We had zombies around the ring,” she said, in what is known as a “lumberjack” match, in which wrestlers surround the ring from the outside to prevent the opponent from escaping. “The zombies were walking around randomly, it was great,” she said. Similar stunts have been done for Pizza Hut and Mike’s Hard Lemonade, which sometimes trend on social media as well.
Unlike pro sports leagues, WWE is structured in a way that favors streamlined dealmaking with sponsors, McMahon said. No player associations, team owners, stadium authorities or agents are required to sign off activations – instead, a “one-stop shop” available for creative execution. “We all own the IP,” she said. “When brands deal with us, they just deal with us. We make something together. ,