World Wrestling Entertainment is toning down its usual flashy, exuberant self-promotion in pitching cable operators on its new subscription video-on-demand service.
Instead of marching burly, mask-wearing wrestlers into system offices, the grappling group is taking a more traditional tack to selling “WWE 24/7,” which features vintage programming and specials, said WWE Enterprises senior vice president Tom Barreca. As part of the toned-down approach, the network is running trade ads featuring caricatures of WWE wrestlers in business-like settings pitching the benefits of the service.
WWE has yet to officially sign any affiliates to a distribution deal, although Berreca said several deals are “imminent” while others could be announced “within the month.”
Known for its often-outlandish but successful monthly pay-per-view events, Berreca said WWE is trying to position its SVOD service as more in line with offerings from Home Box Office and Showtime.
“A big part of this effort is extending a wider branch to the larger cable community and about us really building more credibility and putting a face on the WWE for operators,” Berreca said. “Our notoriety has been of great self-promoters, but rather than take sort of the more bombastic approach, we thought the best way that we can craft a relationship was to call on people in person.”
But unlike the typical Hollywood movie-based SVOD services, Berreca said the WWE fare is more event-driven, which will help operators draw more awareness to the platform. “We don’t fit cleanly into a traditional model,” he said. “I think there’s a broad acceptance for us going here with an owned-and-operated product that’s not distributed through a third party.”
WWE 24/7’s suggested rate of $6 to $10 per month — well above the $4.95 or less charged for premium SVOD services — is a clear differentiator, but one that Berreca said operators haven’t totally rebuffed.
“Some operators believe that we could get that because they see we’ve priced it in a relative context to PPV, while others want us to come down because they want us to fit in their pricing structure regarding other [SVOD] services,” he said. “We’ve been flexible as long as it meets our model.”
Last week, WWE 24/7 hired Outdoor Life Network executive Georgi Rosenberg as director of affiliate sales. She will be working for vice president of affiliate sales Peter Clifford.