WWE Looks To Pin Down Reality Genre

The WWE will enter the reality series ring with the launch Sunday (July 28) of Total Divas on E! The series, which will follow the lives of the company’s female entertainers, will join the WWE’s other cable programs including USA Network's live, top-rated weekly series Monday Night Raw, and Syfy's Smackdown series. I had a chance to talk to WWE chief marketing officer Michelle Wilson about the launch of Total Divas and the expansion of the WWE brand within the television industry.

MCN: How does a new reality series enhance and expand the WWE brand? 

Michelle Wilson: Total Divas allows us to reach even more female viewers, especially those who are fans of reality television.  WWE’s television audience is nearly 40 percent female and Raw on average is watched by 1.5 million females each week, beating every regularly scheduled program on The CW, HGTV, Oxygen, ABC Family, Hallmark, WE, and OWN. Never before have cameras gone where we allowed them to for the show, and the series will showcase the professional and personal lives of our WWE Divas and some of our Superstars on an intimate, relatable level.

MCN:  Why launch the network's first reality series around the WWE Divas rather than your arguably more popular male superstars?

MW: Working in collaboration with E! on this concept, there was clear interest from their viewers and our fans in our Divas, but that’s not to discount the possibility of doing something with our Superstars in the future.  That said, viewers will definitely see WWE Superstars included in the series, such as John Cena and Daniel Bryan, but our real focus is reaching women.  We also believe the behind-the-scenes access that we granted, and that will be featured in the show, will appeal to our more traditional fans as well.  There is a lot more to WWE than many realize, and this program will highlight more than just our television programming and live events.

MCN: Why not launch the series with USA Network with whom the WWE already has a working relationship and which has begun to expand into the reality genre?

MW: Working with E! is a great way to build on our existing relationship with NBCU and again expand the audience for the WWE brand.  It also supports WWE’s long-standing strategy to promote from one show to another across networks.  We’re proud to be partnering with E! as a leader in reality programming, and it makes sense from a business perspective to partner with a network that connects with the exact audience we are trying to reach.

MCN: What does E! bring to the table with regards to its brand?

MW: E! is a powerhouse in the industry and a leader in all things pop culture. They have a very extensive reach not only with cable and satellite subscribers but some of the most relevant and influential properties and personalities online, on mobile and across social media.

MCN: If this is successful will the WWE look to develop other reality shows?

MW: WWE is always looking at ways to expand our content distribution and introduce the brand to new audiences.

MCN: Is the WWE looking at scripted series?

MW: WWE is scripted; I thought you knew that…  In all seriousness, at WWE we say “Never say never,” and anything is possible if the opportunity makes sense from a business standpoint.

MCN: How would you measure success for 'Total Divas?' Ratings? Social Media Buzz?

MW: We’re looking to engage fans on multiple platforms, which is something both WWE and E! excel at, and build on the WWE fan base with E!’s core audience.

MCN: How will you use the other WWE TV properties to market and promote Total Divas, and vice versa?

MW: WWE is utilizing all of our platforms to cross promote Total Divas including TV, WWE.com, WWEDivas.com, WWE mobile, all social media channels as well as full marketing and PR support. With 14 million weekly television viewers and 170 million social media followers, as well as the popularity of our talent, we are confident we have the ability to drive strong awareness for the show.