WWE’s ‘Wrestlemania 30’ Drawing Event Carriage Across Pay-TV Universe

WWE is looking to its April 6 Wrestlemania 30 event to draw both pay-per-view buys and WWE Network subscriptions.

Wrestlemania 30, the pro wrestling outfit’s tentpole event, will be offered both as a traditional PPV event as well as the first event on the new, monthly-subscription WWE Network.

Although Wrestlemania 30 will be shown on the new pay network — which debuted as an online service Feb. 24 — all cable, satellite and telco distributors are offering Wrestlemania 30 as a PPV event.

Even Dish Network is carrying the program, after refusing to distribute the WWE’s February Elimination Chamber event in protest over the movement of PPV events to the new online network. Distributors share revenue from pay-per-view buys but don’t benefit from subscriptions to the new over-the-top network.

Dish in a statement said it will evaluate future WWE PPV events on a case-by-case basis.

“We still have the great [PPV] marketing resources that the cable operators bring to the table,” Michelle Wilson, WWE chief revenue and marketing officer, said.

Last year’s Wrestlemania 29 generated nearly 1 million buys worldwide, a number that will be difficult to match given the event’s exposure on the WWE Network. Wilson would not project how many PPV buys the event will generate, adding that it’s unclear how many early adoptors purchased the WWE Network to watch Wrestlemania.

Wilson would not disclose how many subscribers have signed up for the WWE Network, but she said the WWE will announce that figure the day after Wrestlemania on April 7. She said the ultimate goal is to get to 1 million subscribers, which would effectively offset any lost PPV revenue due to moving the PPV events to the WWE Network.

In addition to traditional PPV marketing of the event, the WWE for the first time has created a multi-million dollar television and social media marketing campaign for both Wrestlemania and the WWE Network. Wilson said the WWE will run Wrestlemania and WWE Network ads for the event on more than 24 cable networks over the next week. The company will also spend significant marketing dollars on social media platforms and alternative distribution platforms like the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 gaming consoles.

“We haven’t done that significant a media buy before, but we think it’s important for us to connect with our casual and lapsed fans to get them to buy the WWE Network,” Wilson said.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.