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WWE Goes Social to Sell Expanded ‘SummerSlam’

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World Wrestling Entertainment will lean on social media and pay-per-view promotion to help pin down viewers for its Aug. 23 WWE SummerSlam event, its second-biggest pay-per-view event of the year after Wrestlemania.

WWE will also expand the live on-air hours for SummerSlam — which airs on the over-the-top WWE Network, as well as via pay-per-view through cable distributors for a suggested retail price of $44.99 — to four hours to three hours to accommodate what it believes is a strong lineup of matches, Brian Flinn, WWE senior vice president of marketing and communications, told Multichannel News.

Additionally, a one-hour pre-show will lead up up the PPV telecast.

To promote SummerSlam, Flinn said, the WWE is placing heavy marketing emphasis on social media sites like Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter in an effort to activate its 525 million social media followers.

The wrestling outfit will exploit Facebook’s new “live” app to stream activities surrounding its WWE Superstars leading up to Sunday’s event, Flinn said. WWE will also offer Snapchat followers a live, ongoing narrative revolving around SummerSlam prior to to the live telecast.

“With these live look-ins, we are bringing fans from around the world into all of our events live leading up to SummerSlam,” Flinn said.

Flinn said the event would also receive traditional PPV marketing support from MVPD distributors — although he said satellite-TV providers DirecTV and Dish Network will not carry this event to their combined 34 million homes. Neither provider has aired a WWE PPV event since the company began airing its monthly PPV shows on WWE Network in early 2014.

To help draw viewers to the WWE Network, now in 1.2 million homes, the WWE in July began offering new users a rolling 30-day free trial regardless of when they signed up. Previously, the free trial had concluded at the end of each month regardless of when the signup occurred.

Flinn said SummerSlam, which will take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., after a five-year run in Los Angeles, will feature as its main event a match between popular WWE superstars The Undertaker and former mixed-martial-arts star Brock Lesnar, which it hopes will draw both hard-core and casual wrestling fans.

“It always starts with the attraction, and this is event is the perfect example of us providing compelling content to our fans [that is] deserving of their passion,” he said.

The WWE will also develop several community-based activities in New York through out the week before the event, including an Aug. 21 interactive experience for fans to meet with and get autographs from WWE “Superstars.”