Stephanie McMahon Sees NXT Brand Going Global In Next 20 Years

– Stephanie McMahon spoke with Engadget at CES for a new interview discussing the company’s future over the next twenty years and more. You can check out the video below, along with a summary per Wrestling Inc:

* Stephanie talked about WWE being one of the most interactive forms of all media and how their audience has always impacted what happens on the show. She said you amplify that with the various platforms that are available and now their audience has a bigger voice to be so impactful. She commented how the new NextVR virtual reality partnership for live events and the new Mixed Match Challenge on Facebook Watch continues their interactivity and broadens their engagement, and hopefully their appeal.

* Regarding changes, what doesn’t change is the audience. Stephanie called them WWE’s secret sauce. What also does not change is WWE’s mission to put smiles on faces, and the fundamental aspect of storytelling. She says WWE is no different than a great opera, book, play or any other type of show because it’s antagonist vs. protagonist with conflict resolution but WWE’s conflicts just happen to be settled in a 20×20 ring with some of the greatest live action that you can see on any form of media. What has changed is their ability to reach the audience in better ways as their mission is always to “super-serve” the audience and give them an experience that is worthy of their passion.

* When asked how social media changes the way Superstars and the company engage with the audience, Stephanie said it only grows the engagement. She touted how RAW had more Facebook engagement than Game of Thrones in 2017. Stephanie said in addition to pushing out storyline content or marketing messaging that brands would normally do, WWE listens to its audience, whether it’s an individual basis like interacting with John Cena on Twitter, who she says will respond to you, or with the entire women’s division as they’ve done with the women’s evolution. She talked about how WWE re-branded the Divas division to the women’s division and started calling the female competitors Superstars like the men, and how WWE made history in the Middle East last year with a “this is hope!” chant during the Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss RAW Women’s Title match. She pointed to the power of the WWE brand, or power any brand can have, and said it’s really a privilege to be a part of.

* Stephanie said with more than 500 shows per year they essentially have a focus group every single night and are constantly listening to the fans. Add social media metrics and other data analytics that they get, and WWE is able to specifically target their customers with an experience they want.

* Regarding the NextVR partnership to debut later this year, WWE wants the fans to feel what the performers feel. She always gets asked what it’s like to walk out in front of the crowd, what it’s like to be in the ring with a WWE Superstar. She says fans will be able to feel what it’s like when a Superstar performs a move off the top rope. WWE wants fans to experience the adrenaline, the excitement, the fear and the energy, and that’s what virtual reality can hopefully provide. She says there will be 6 different VR experiences that take place at the end of certain live events, each running for about 10 minutes.

* She talked about how WWE is experiencing with various technologies because they want to reach the audience where they are and by however they want to consume the content. She touted how WWE is multi-generational with over 1/3 of the audience under the age of 34, just based on Nielsen’s TV data and not including digital and social, which is more younger. She pointed to VR, the MMC, 360 programming and other technologies as ways that they are constantly out there trying to deliver the best possible experience for fans because WWE really is this tremendous cross-section.

* She said technology and social media helps build richer storyline experiences by allowing them to go even deeper. She talked about how something can start between two performers on social media and then it morphs into a storyline for RAW or SmackDown. She said it’s important for WWE to create custom content for each platform and not re-purpose content because people want authentic, real, engaging experiences and it’s important for them to create content the way fans want to experience it.

* When asked about equality and diversity in WWE, and if she sees things progressing especially for women, Stephanie says she absolutely sees progress. She mentioned the women’s evolution again and said they do have a long way to go but they’re just getting started. She also noted how over 40% of the roster is internationally diverse, calling it exciting, but saying the ultimate goal is reaching parity. She said WWE always wants to reflect their audience because they want to be relatable.

* When asked about her own legacy and what tools she’s using to help build her personal brand, Stephanie commented on how they feel it’s very important to talk to their consumers and what she loves so much about performing is the chance to interact live with the audience. She said there’s nothing better than that. Regarding her personal legacy, she feels the most important thing she can do as a person is to be the best human being she can be and to give back as much as possible. She cited the 4 key pillars of giving back that WWE has – hope, diversity, military & education. She talked about partnerships with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, their anti-bullying efforts, partnerships with GLAAD and the Special Olympics. She also talked about the Tribute to the Troops, their education & literacy efforts, partnerships with Susan G. Komen and Make-A-Wish, noting that they have raised more than $200 million for Komen. She also talked about how she and Triple H started the Connor’s Cure charity, named after the late Connor Michalek. Stephanie said they want to ensure that no child or their family has to suffer that way. Pediatric cancer has become a huge focus of hers personally and she’s doing everything she can in honor of Connor.

* She said they are working on making a lot of WWE Network improvements but nothing they can announce yet. She said they are very excited and anxious to make the improvements. She added that they have to wait on partners, who are the most incredible partners in the world, but there is a process that has to happen and they are impatient.

* She was asked what WWE will look like in 20 years. She thinks we will see WWE Performance Centers in several countries, their WWE NXT brand expanding elsewhere as they want to replicate that experience and build it into this much bigger ecosystem. She said NXT started off as developmental but became a third touring brand because of the fans. She cited the incredible relationship they have with consumers, something she doesn’t believe other brands have, as something they want to amplify. They will continue to focus on international expansion, content and data/analytics. She said WWE wants to be everywhere and wants to continue providing the experience to fans, wherever they may be or however they want it. She said one sure thing is that WWE isn’t afraid to take risks and has a history of disrupting their own business model.

* She commented on how Vince McMahon has always said that you want to be slightly ahead of the curve, not so far ahead of the curve that people can’t understand you, but you certainly do not want to be behind the curve. She says WWE always wants to be there when it comes to digital & tech, and they will always be there taking calculated risks, working with partners and experimenting.


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