Wrestling company targets youth

World Wrestling Entertainment wants more kids in its ring.

The company has started to aggressively court the youth set with the launch of WWE Kids magazine, as well as plans to create original programming for the demo on its main website and new WWEKids.com destination. A TV series could follow.

The bimonthly mag, aimed at 6- to 14-year-olds, bows April 15. Company already has a successful monthly pub with WWE magazine, which has a circulation of roughly 300,000 and targets the company’s core demo of males 12-24.

It’s not as if WWE wasn’t attracting kids already. Company’s live events, TV shows, pay-per-view bouts, homevids, videogames, website, books and magazine are regular draws for younger auds.

For example, its TV shows on USA Network, the CW and Sci Fi Channel are watched by 2.6 million viewers in the 6- to 14-year-old age group each week, the company said.

Yet with WWE concentrating on teens and young adults, its expansion overseas, especially in Europe and China, as well as going after Hispanic auds, it realized the kids market was an audience segment it wasn’t focused on.

“A large percentage of children in America get introduced to our brand from 6 to 10 years old,” said Geof Rochester, exec VP of marketing for WWE. “We said, ‘We have a strong kids audience; let’s embrace that.’ We want to have a lifelong relationship with these kids.”

Idea is to create new fans by producing custom content for young auds and hold on to them longer as they grow up with the brand, execs said.

The kid-focused efforts are part of the WWE’s “recommitment to provide its young audience with new, fun, age-appropriate content,” said Shane McMahon, exec VP of global media for WWE, who oversees WWE Kids.

The mag, which will be heavily hyped in Wal-Mart stores, and the website are the first of several content offerings.

“Anything we do, we do multiplatform,” Rochester said. “As we look at the kids marketplace, we’ll attack it the same way.”

As part of its kids initiative, WWE also inked a multiyear deal with Mattel in February, making it the company’s toy licensee beginning in 2010, replacing Jakks Pacific.

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