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WWE Tweaks PPV Play

World Wrestling Entertainment is taking advantage of new media and adjusting the branding of its pay-per-view events in an effort to bolster PPV buys in a tough economic climate.

The company will rename at least one of its monthly PPV events and provide prize incentives for consumers who buy consecutive monthly events in an effort to boost its transactional business, according to WWE senior vice president of distribution and affiliate marketing Peter Clifford.

While WWE is on budget with its PPV events for the first six months of the year, Clifford said the company lowered revenue expectations this year due to the economic recession. He would not reveal specific details, though.

“We have a long history of looking at our PPV events and we have a pretty good idea of where they are going to land,” he said. “We took into account the economy and cut back our expectations a bit, so we’re pretty much on budget, which is a good thing for us.”

To aid its PPV efforts, WWE is working with its affiliates to create exclusive video content operators can run on their VOD and broadband video platforms to support its various events, including SummerSlam in August. For SummerSlam — one of the company’s tentpole PPV events — the company is offering replays of past SummerSlam matches for operators to offer on broadband.

WWE’s tech-savvy fans will find its content on any platform, Clifford said. “One of the great things about the WWE is that our fanbase moves wherever we tell them to go,” he said. “By moving our fans to the operators’ various platforms for our bigger shows, we’re providing a product that is designed to both promote the upcoming PPV and to drive incremental revenue for our affiliates.”

To revitalize its monthly PPV brands, WWE is examining all of its events to see what changes can be made to drive more buys. It will change the name of its annual Unforgiven event to Breaking Point, for example, to better reflect the storylines and matchups created for the show.

“We’ve been doing these PPVs for a few years and we felt that some of the PPVs were a little flat in terms of what we wanted the titles to project, so we looked to see which ones we can rename,” he said.

Clifford wouldn’t rule out actually dropping some monthly PPV events and adding others in an effort to maximize buys. “We’re constantly looking at our product to find out how to make it better,” he said.

The company is also looking to provide prize incentives to consumers who purchase consecutive monthly PPV events.

Consumers buying the Night of Champions and SummerSlam event will get a wrist watch that replicates a WWE championship belt.

Clifford said the network will continue to reach out to its fans via the Web by offering its PPV events simultaneously on linear cable as well as on the Web. While the Web buys are a small percentage of the company’s overall PPV revenue take, said Clifford, the offer provides WWE fans with greater viewing and purchasing options.

“We’re using every and any media that our affiliates have to promote this product,” he said. “It all ends up being a win for all involved.”

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.