WWE’s Chief Financial Officier Kristina Salen recently spoke with the Wall Street Journal about a number of topics, including shifting from live to virtual audiences, the new streaming deal with Peacock, and how the company plans on attracting younger audiences.
Salen joined WWE last summer and has overseen investments in WWE’s ThunderDome, as well as the upcoming Wrestlemania 37 pay-per-view.
When asked about WWE Network’s struggle to grow, Salen stated didn’t “aggressively go after subscribers”.
I would argue against the idea that the WWE Network struggled to grow. From our perspective, we didn’t actively and aggressively go after subscribers in the way that a large, mass-audience streaming platform would.
She says WWE is not a technology company, and they are not trying to become the next Netflix or Disney+. She believes access to Peacock will give the company a more widespread platform to draw more viewers.
First and foremost, it’s not our core competency to become Netflix, or even to become Disney+. The WWE Network by definition was going to be smaller than these mass-technology platforms. Because we’re not a technology company. We’re an entertainment company.
From that perspective, the attraction of getting involved with another streaming partner is exactly as you described. It gives us access to a broader platform of folks within a premium tier.
She was asked about how WWE is planning to recruit a younger audience. Salen says the company connects with the younger generations through Youtube, and Tik Tok, as well as videogames and toys.
We connect with the younger generations through our YouTube presence, through our TikTok presence. The other way that we engage with our younger fan base is in [consumer packaged goods like videogames and toys].
In recent years, WWE has been focused on growing its international market. Recently the company hosted the Superstar Spectacle, aiming for Indian viewership. Salen spoke on how the company plans to grow its international audience<
When you find places where we have a strong brand identity already, and it intersects with a local wrestling culture, that’s a great opportunity for us to build local WWE brands globally. India and Latin America have that intersection. [With the WWE Superstar Spectacle on Jan. 26], we used India superstars.
We have been developing local India talent for some time. We brought them to Florida. And specifically for the India market, we created the India Superstar Spectacle. We held it on India Republic Day, a big national holiday.
We brought in India cultural references, dance troupes, music groups. And it was rabidly received. Creating that kind of content is part of building a brand locally over time The India Spectacular wasn’t an event that had already been planned and then Covid happened. The India Spectacular was, “How can we engage with our Indian fans in the time of Covid?” It was a completely new idea. Just like the Thunderdome was a completely new idea.