There is absolutely no denying that WWE is an absolutely massive global franchise. It’s been that way for years too. From its founding by Jess McMahon back in the 1950s as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation, it’s certainly come a great distance. It’s been through several name changes along the way – World Wide Wrestling Federation, World Wrestling Federation, to its current guise as World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. – and seen countless legendary characters grace the ring. As the likes of Buddy Rogers and Pedro Morales gave way to the Superstar Billy Graham and Chief Jay Strongbow, and through to the more modern era with Papa Shango, Dude Love, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, John Cena, and the Hardy Boys et. al, the franchise just seems to have gone from strength to strength. All the while, this sports entertainment behemoth continues to generate more and more revenue, expanding into the truly colossal company we know today. So, what’s the secret of their success? Why have they succeeded in becoming pretty much the only name in televised professional wrestling? Let’s take a look at a few contributing factors of the WWE franchise.
One of the reasons behind the success of WWE is certainly that it never seems to stop expanding. In 2017, the company staged 11 additional events in a single quarter from the previous year. This translated into a record quarterly revenue for the company of $52.8 million. The franchise’s chief strategy and financial officer, George Barrios stated:
“We achieved record revenues in our network and live event segments, continued to grow WWE Network’s subscriber base, and generated results that were essentially in line with our guidance.”
What’s more, there doesn’t look like there’s going to be a stop put to the WWE’s expansion any time soon. Analysts predict that company earning will grow in the region of 90 to over 180% over the next three years. They even expect annual revenue to grow to close to $1 billion by 2020!
2018 Looks Like It’s Going To Be Even bigger
Such exciting figures provide the WWE with a unique opportunity to lure big draws into their roster too. The Tag Team matchup between the daughter of the big boss, Stephanie McMahon and husband Triple H, against UFC starlet Ronda Rousey and former Olympian Kurt Angle was one for the ages. Such crossovers appeal to a wider audience than the usual (and admittedly massive) existing WWE fanbase.
Of course, another of WWE’s strongest selling points is its merchandise game. Wrestling superstars have always loaned themselves exquisitely to the action figure market, and it’s hardly surprising that in 2015, only two of the largest ever children’s merchandising companies, Star Wars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, beat the WWE’s sales in the figurines department.
Obviously, the WWE’s merch department extend well beyond action figures though. The superstars of the wrestling world have appeared on just about every conceivable surface worth slapping a logo onto. Lunch boxes, stationary, t-shirts, and replica belts to name but a few. The reach of the WWE merch is so great that the legendary roster’s likenesses have even been featured in various casino games. This has led to the franchise generating some truly enormous revenue. In fact, in 2015 alone, online and in-venue merchandising earned over $75 million.
Moving with the Times
Ultimately, one of the ways in which the WWE franchise has done so well over the years is that it stays with the times. For example, the top dog in sports entertainment is also the top dog when it comes to YouTube subscribers. Not a single other channel on the platform’s “sports” category has more. These 12 million fans racked up more than 10 billion views in 2016 alone. Member of WWE’s Board of Directors, George Barrios, commented on CEO Vince McMahon’s attitude towards the streaming services and the franchise’s shift towards digital almost a decade ago:
“In 2010, Vince sat down our executive team and challenged us every day to be a little bit more digital, a little by more direct to consumer and a little bit more global… Five years ago, our business was 5 percent digital. It’s now 33 percent. Our international business is up 40 percent and now makes up 26 percent of our sales.”
When all this is considered, it’s hardly surprising that the WWE is now a billion-dollar business. In the last sixty years, it’s evolved into a truly global franchise that has fans in every corner of the world. Thanks to their savvy merchandising, keen business sense, and continually exciting content, there seems little reason that’ll change anytime soon too!