In the backdrop of the recently concluded first-ever WWE tryouts in India, John Brody, Executive Vice President of Global Sales and Head of International, WWE tells us about WWE’s localization and growth strategy towards deeper engagement with its India fan base, and partnership with Sony
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), which counts India as its biggest market outside the US based on fan base, held the first-ever WWE tryouts in India in Mumbai recently to select the most deserving Indian men and women athletes to join the WWE network globally. With participation from 80 potential male and female athletes from across the country with mastery in kushti, kabaddi, wrestling, basketball, combat sports, cricket and bodybuilding, this was also the largest tryouts in WWE history.
Having been in India for 25 years, WWE sees 386 million unique TV viewers in the country annually on Sony Ten 1, Sony Ten 3, Sony Max, and India is also the number one market for WWE in terms of monthly active users on Facebook and YouTube. Globally, digital engagement continues to grow with video views up 57% to 31.4 billion and hours consumed up 77% to 1.2 billion across digital and social media platforms.
Talking about the importance of the Indian market, John Brody, Executive Vice President of Global Sales and Head of International, WWE said, “I am happy that the largest tryouts in WWE history took place in Mumbai to fans who have been passionate about WWE for so long. While we currently have nine members of Indian descent as part of WWE, the tryouts are an attempt to increase that number, while helping more men and women to realize their dream of becoming WWE superstars.”
Going forward, as part of its localization strategy in India, WWE is looking at developing more local talent, increasing the number of local languages for its shows, and creating more localized shows, besides working with its social media team to create more local content to connect with a wider audience.
Currently, WWE has an exclusive partnership with Sony which extends to its OTT platform SonyLIV. Apart from this, it also connects with fans through social media channels like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter, as well as through promotional talent tours which are held 2-3 times a year in India, retail visits and live events.
WWE does 550 live events per year in 70 international cities. It is also available in 800 million homes, in 180 countries and in 27 different languages. In 2018, it posted a revenue of US$ 930.2 million, the highest in its history.
In terms of advertising and marketing for WWE, Brody remarks, “Sony is a tremendous marketing partner for us. They have invested heavily over the years to diversify and to provide more opportunities for fans. What we find is our content ecosystem is so rich that there are many ways for us to interact with our viewers and we rely on that as a primary marketing component.” Some of the brands that Sony has brought on board include Unilever, Trivago, and Coverfox, among others.
The fact that WWE provides year-round entertainment, and stands in a unique pivot point between sports and entertainment, makes it attractive for brand partnerships. WWE’s events and tryouts also provide unique sponsorship opportunities.
“Here in India, as well as globally, we are in a competition for time spent viewing, time spent engaging, time spent buying, and time spent learning about WWE. We are always searching to be a part of what’s next, to innovate, to reimagine. Keeping this in mind, our immediate focus is deeper fan engagement, increasing consumption and sustainable growth with the ultimate goal of creating a deeper connection with the WWE universe in India,” Brody concludes.