WWE Plots Digital Strategy

NEW YORK World Wrestling Entertainment hopes to create an aura of Wrestlemania on a global scale driven by its digital platform.

Digital contributes 7 percent of the company’s overall revenue, but the WWE is aiming for 25-50 percent growth annually, said Michael Sileck, COO. Sileck revealed plans at the 35th annual UBS Global Media & Communications Conference this morning.

“We are trying to tap into the strength of the Internet,” he said. The goal is to distribute its content (100 percent owned by the WWE) and advertise widely on the Web.

This will be core in its strategy to expand internationally, particularly into emerging markets such as China, Japan and Latin America (targeting Mexico and South America). The WWE expects to have success in Japan, given the heritage of wrestling in the country (Sileck was referring to its sumo culture). Next week, the WWE will formally announce an alliance with Brazilian TV network Sistema Brasileiro de Televisao. It already has a major distribution deal with Taj TV in India. The sports entertainment company currently has a presence in 130 countries outside of the U.S.

The WWE has established an office in Shanghai, and will look to open outposts in Australia, Brazil and Japan next year. “By developing a local presence we can expand distribution, particularly through the digital platform to create advertising and sponsorship opportunities in those markets,” said Sileck.

One of its strategies to drive online traffic is to focus on continuing WWE plotlines on the Web. “We had one story line where someone got blown up in a car. We created a message saying, ‘For more on this story line, go to www.wwe.com,” said Sileck. Within 20 minutes he said there were a significant amount of hits.

At present, the WWE is directing everyone to its U.S. Web site, though the company has a small Japanese Internet presence. By creating a localized digital presence, this “creates global inventory we can then monetize, which can become significant over time,” said Sileck.

Sileck also emphasized growing mobile opportunities, which will also be a primary driver in its digital platform, given its predominantly young male demographic. “Mobile lends itself nicely to our content because of its relationship with the younger demographics, which are increasingly looking to this medium to receive content,” he said.