The Bugg Report had the chance to speak to Brian Maeda at WWE for everything that has happened at the company over the past 12 months and to learn about what will be happening in 2018 and beyond for both events, licensing and consumer products.
Thank you for taking to time to speak to The Bugg Report, Brian. Can you give us an update on some of the highlights at WWE over the past 12 months?
WWE is a global media and entertainment company which consists of a portfolio of businesses that create and deliver original content 52 weeks a year to a global audience. We have no off-season. We recently had very successful events at WrestleMania 34 in New Orleans, Louisiana and the Greatest Royal Rumble in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. We reached 2M subscribers on our OTT service, WWE Network. 9Go!, Foxtel and E! have helped us locally in Australia to reach our audience. We’ve increased the number of partnerships with best-in-class licensees and we’re feeling good about our growth potential in the market.
WWE is a brand that resonates with many age groups and demographics; has the focus changed at all in respect to the WWE’s target markets and core fan base?
10 years ago, WWE reimagined our content and made the strategic decision to become more family-friendly, to grow our multi-generational audience and attract more blue-chip partners. This is reflected in the fan base that you’ll see at our live events and in the consumer products that our licensees create.
I believe that WWE is pushing the women’s division quite a lot these days, especially with the introduction of Ronda Rousey. What is the motivation behind pushing the women’s division?
Women now account for 40 percent of the WWE’s fan base and women have been more regularly featured in main events on all television and pay-per-view programming. We believe that we are giving our audience what they are asking us for.
WWE events are hugely popular throughout the world; what does WWE Live! Have in store for Australia this year?
We’re still working on our Live Event calendar for Australia. We’ve had great success in the market and our plan is to continue to build on that.
From a licensing and consumer products perspective, you work with many partners throughout the world to bring great products and services to market. Are you able to give us a general update on the licensing and consumer products business and some of the most exciting developments that have happened during the past 12 months?
For consumer products, WWE is a $1 billion brand at retail and we work with more than 200 licensees across 85 countries. Our products are available on 16 major e-commerce sites, including our own WWEShop.com. Our global and local consumer products partners regularly update their product portfolios so fans have the latest toy, game, gadget or Superstar accessory every year. Australia was one of our biggest growth markets for toys last year with our key partner, Mattel. In addition, WWE is the best-selling video game franchise and our annual 2K console videogame continues to provide our fan base with great gaming content. Our last five mobile games debuted on top grossing charts with 70 million installs worldwide.
From an Australian point of view, I believe Ooshies by HeadStart have been a smash hit new product for WWE. What does the future hold for new generations of Ooshies?
HeadStart has been a solid partner for us and we do plan to do more with them in the future. Stay tuned and we’ll share more of those plans shortly.
With the addition of so many new Superstars in the WWE recently, how has your licensing and consumer products evolved to focus on these new Superstars?
With a large number of Superstars this gives our licensees the ability to tap into a wide variety of creative assets for use in consumer products. As our content is updated frequently we work closely with our licensees to update artwork assets and to identify which Superstars resonate most in any given market.
Thanks for your time Brian; before you go can you give us a quick snapshot on what we can look forward to from the WWE over the next 12 months?
We are re-imagining the future of WWE. We have plans to expand into many international territories with scaled versions of the template we’ve created for localized promotions that will serve as feeder systems to find new Superstars. We have some exciting plans for Australia as well. This will help us to further expand our consumer product offering.