Vince McMahon officially no longer in rasslin’ business
Often during the late ’80s and into the wrestling war of the ’90s, Vince McMahon often boasted that while Ted Turner was in the rasslin’ business, his then World Wrestling Federation was in the sports entertainment business.
No matter that McMahon at one time during the expansion years employed more than 100 wrestlers, sold hundreds of thousands of wrestling tickets to wrestling fans at wrestling events, hosted some of the biggest wrestling PPV events of the era, and transformed an idea called WrestleMania into a pop-culture phenomenon.
Reportedly, during the final 48 hours before the latest WrestleMania event, a meeting was held in which Vince declared that the company would no longer be referred to as the limiting, stigma-bearing World Wrestling Entertainment; rather, effective immediately, the company would simply be WWE, an all-encompassing entertainment brand…sort of like Disney I suppose.
Days after its biggest wrestling event of the year, the company released a press release announcing its new business model: To better reflect the company’s global entertainment offerings, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: WWE) announced today a new business model for future growth, including formally rebranding itself, WWE.
Two key components to WWE’s brand expansion will be the active pursuit to acquire entertainment content companies and the outsourcing of WWE’s core competencies – television and film production, live event production and licensing. As part of the new business model, the company will also focus on the development of new television products including scripted, non-scripted and animated programs, as well as the launch of a new WWE network in the next 12-18 months. The first new program of the brand expansion is Tough Enough®, WWE’s non-scripted program that debuted on the USA Network on Monday.
“The new business model of the company better reflects what WWE is all about, being a global entertainment company,” stated Vince McMahon, Chairman and CEO, WWE. “We will always be loyal to our core business that made WWE a globally known entity, however, the future of WWE will be the addition of new entertainment content opportunities beyond the ring.”
This new rebranding initiative will be highlighted through a national consumer and business-to-business advertising campaign entitled “Bigger. Badder. Better.™” The campaign kicked off at WrestleMania® XXVII on Sunday and will be featured on cable TV, print and online.
While some would argue that Vince has been out of the wrestling business for years now, having steadily run off his own audience and longtime WCW fans since 2001, the line that concerns me the most is “the company will also focus on the development of new television products including scripted, non-scripted and animated programs.” Yes, because they have such a tremendous track record with such projects. (Anyone catch “The Marine”? Anyone?) As I mentioned last week, outside of wrestling, Vince has had little success, which the Los Angeles Times also recently pointed out:
“The moves come as WWE looks to rebound from a tough end to 2010 that saw attendance at its events and pay-per-view revenue both drop 15% in the fourth quarter. The declines were blamed on the economy, although WWE probably didn’t help matters by raising prices at a time when its core audience was feeling the pinch. This is not the first time WWE has tried to expand beyond its core. Several years ago, it partnered with NBC to launch the XFL, a springtime football league that died after just one season. A restaurant in Times Square also flopped. McMahon said he’s learned his lesson from those follies and will stick to the entertainment business.”
I have to admit, though, that despite rumors for over a year involving a “The Odd Couple”-style sitcom featuring Kozlov and Santino Marella in the works, I’m more optimistic after seeing a clip of WWE’s new animated TV series. Kids should eat this up. (I’m not sure about Bigger or Better, but the new WWE should definitely be Badder®.)