I took a double-take reading a recent headline “WWE Studios Expands into Scripted Series…”. I mean, isn’t wrestling by definition scripted? What’s the big deal?
It turns out the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) is expanding its studio operations to try and take advantage of “peak video.” Moving beyond TV wrestling-related fare, it hopes to expand into more prestige content. It hopes to do this while still keeping a connection to its roster of stars and the “squared circle.”
This includes a couple of prestige projects. These include a documentary on Andre the Giant for HBO, and a feature starring Dwayne Johnson (aka former WWE star The Rock) that is to be written and directed by Stephen Merchant. A tag team alliance between WWE and powerhouse Hollywood agency WME helps drive this endeavor.
Although not directly mentioned, the WWE’s own SVOD service, The WWE Network, may also be a factor. At a relatively hefty $9.99/month, the service may be finding out what a lot of cable channels have: playing in a very specific niche is difficult, even considering the avid WWE fans who subscribe. Just a few examples are Spike (created as a men’s network), MTV (24/7 music), and Oxygen (women). All had to broaden their content and dilute their niche base to keep growing.
Doubleteam for the win?
While WWE Studios, and the WWE Network, may never go beyond an outer ring of wrestling, they can diversify their content while not tagging out of the wrestling connection completely.
David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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