The rise in the number of available streaming services for consumers in recent times is an interesting phenomenon. Of the many, the direct-to-consumer platform that the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc (NYSE: WWE) has built presents an interesting paradigm to ponder. The launch of Disney+ in late 2019 was a riveting inflection point because it highlighted a paradigm change where a powerful content conglomerate directly owned the streaming platform. In their Fourth Quarter and Full Year Earnings for Fiscal 2020, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) reported 73.7 million, 10.3 million, and 36.6 million paid subscribers to Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu, respectively. In comments, Bob Chapek, the Chief Executive Officer, mentioned that “The real bright spot has been our direct-to-consumer business, which is key to the future of our company, and on this anniversary of the launch of Disney+ we’re pleased to report that, as of the end of the fourth quarter, the service had more than 73 million paid subscribers – far surpassing our expectations in just its first year” .
The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) is a conglomerate unto itself with a diversified audience, varied selection of content, and a global audience. What separates Netflix Inc (NASDAQ: NFLX) and The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) might just be its legacy content. In a crowded streaming environment, two other companies reporting growth in subscribers: World Wrestling Entertainment Inc (NYSE: WWE), with 1.6 million paid subscribers, 6% growth, and Discovery Inc C (NASDAQ: DISCK), with 11 million paid subscribers. The overall adoption of multiple streaming networks is a noticeable trend since content producers have increasingly looked to leverage their content’s societal value to attract consumers to their platform. The way I see it, instead of purely creating content, companies are interested in monetizing their content from production to consumer reception and leverage it to make exclusive virtual community centers where they can be viewed. Instead of relying on traditional distribution channels, modern technology and the internet have allowed content conglomerates to offer a unique manner that helps create a better direct-to-consumer relation.
The argument I try to convey is not which company will dominate the industry but the preservation, monetization, and globality of original and legacy content. When a company like Netflix Inc (NASDAQ: NFLX) chooses to air a show like Parks and Recreation, they license the content from Comcast Corp (NASDAQ: CMCSA), the parent company of NBC Universal, for a hefty fee. Even though a platform like Netflix Inc (NASDAQ: NFLX) would offer a global audience of 200 million paid subscribers , content producers have developed their platforms to leverage and monetize their brand value.
After six years since it was made available to the public, the WWE Network launched on February 24, 2014, has changed how professional wrestling pay-per-views are presented to consumers.
With an average of 1.5 million subscribers since launch, the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc (NYSE: WWE) offers a unique opportunity to view stories reflective of American culture and society. Moreover, the produced content is unique, global, and relevant.
The World Wrestling Entertainment Inc (NYSE: WWE) produces hours of original content every week for its global audience. In their Fourth Quarter 2020 Results, World Wrestling Entertainment Inc (NYSE: WWE) reported that “Digital video views were 38.0 billion, an increase of 10%, and hours consumed were 1.4 billion, an increase of 10%, across digital and social media platforms” . Although the pandemic resulting in a 97% decrease in Live Events revenue , World Wrestling Entertainment Inc (NYSE: WWE) has continued to deliver fresh weekly content even in uncertain conditions and maintain engagement through different avenues.
The following chart refers to the Gross Domestic Product by Industry Private Industries: Arts, Entertainment, Recreation, Accommodation, and Food Services: Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation: Performing Arts, Spectator Sports, Museums, and Related Activities for the United States compiled by the FRED Economic Research, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The overall industry, as reflected from the chart, has experienced an uptrend even with recessions. The data is from January 1997 to January 2019. Understanding that 2020 would deliver a correction to the trendline, it can be inferred that the industry would be supported with a broader sustained opening of the economy.
Today, WWE has over 55 billion views for its Youtube Channel with 73.7 million subscribers . WWE has more youtube subscribers than the 5 major American sports leagues combined – NBA (16 million), NFL (7.74 million), MLB (2.69 million), NHL (1.56 million), and MLS (628,000). The most popular video with 258 million views involves the current Executive Vice President of Global Talent Strategy & Development, Paul Levesque, attacked with a sledgehammer, handcuffed to the ring, and forced to witness the ‘Apex Predator,’ Randy Orton kiss his wife, the current Chief Brand Officer, Stephanie McMahon.
Interestingly the video is silent of commentary and dialogue and only supported and carried through the gasps and disgust echoed from the audience at Randy’s actions. The video has approximately 952,000 thumbs up and 151,000 thumbs down.
Of their Top 10 Most Popular video in terms of the number of views on their channel, six include John Cena, and two feature the Great Khali, an Indian-born 7ft giant . The John Cena imprint is remarkable, but the Great Khali one speaks to a broader theme in the play as reflected by one particular recent event: WWE Superstar Spectacle. World Wrestling Entertainment Inc (NYSE: WWE) attraction to the Indian market and doing what it does best: create unique and global content.
If you make an apples-to-apples comparison, the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc (NYSE: WWE) and The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) are nothing alike. Mickey Mouse and John Cena’s world are nothing alike. Still, they share some core characteristics, the chief being they speak to a global audience blind of any age barriers and relatable storylines. Vincent K. McMahon, the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc (NYSE: WWE) presents a product that attracts and resonates with a global audience. The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) dominates the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc (NYSE: WWE) in terms of paid subscribers significantly, 70 million vs. 1.5 million. The World Wrestling Entertainment Inc (NYSE: WWE) is a company that might not dominate the streaming wars specifically but is a significant niche player in the entertainment industry. In a world of uncertainty, one can always rely on World Wrestling Entertainment Inc (NYSE: WWE) to deliver valuable content weekly.
Since January 11, 1993, when the first episode of Monday Night Raw aired on the USA Network, the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc (NYSE: WWE) has produced original content based on pop culture. Before they go live, they air a small video segment where they proudly display the WWE logo with the slogan, “Then, Now, Forever.” World Wrestling Entertainment Inc (NYSE: WWE) has built over the years is a uniquely American product that will resonate for generations.