Established in 2002 and re-branded in 2008, WWE Studios produces a slate of direct-to-homevideo and theatrical releases that it finances or funds with producing partners. Acquisitions of titles from film festivals is another part of its model. Its biggest hit to date is the Halle Berry thriller “The Call,” while “The Marine” is a successful franchise for the company on homevideo.
WWE Community is the company’s charitable arm that manages its Be a Star anti-bullying campaign with the Creative Coalition, literacy programs, civic engagement, military support and manages its 30 year partnership with the Make-a-Wish Foundation, for which John Cena has granted 300 wishes, more than any other celebrity. Last fall, he helped raise $1 million for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure campaign to help cure breast cancer.
In the third quarter of 2013, WWE.com attracted more than 14 million monthly unique visitors worldwide, who viewed an average of more than 51 million monthly video streams. It operates local-language sites in 23 countries, including China. The WWE app has been downloaded more than 8 million times in 220 countries. The company has 250 million fans across social media networks.
WWE has more than 130 licenses worldwide, with Walmart, Kmart, Toys R Us, Target, GameStop, Tesco and Ackermans as its core retail partners. Mattel has been WWE’s master toy licensee since 2010; its current contract runs through 2019. Toys and videogames (published by Take-Two Interactive) comprise around 18% of its licensing business.
WWE Music Group has partnered with Cee Lo Green, Sean Combs and Diddy-Dirty Money, Trace Adkins, Kid Rock, Aretha Franklin and John Legend to feature their music in PPV events and TV specials.
WWE produces 12 PPV events a year with “WrestleMania” the biggest, followed by “SummerSlam,” which will again take place at Staples Center in Los Angeles in August. “WrestleMania 29,” held April 7, 2013, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., generated more than 1 million PPV buys and global gross sales in excess of $72 million.
In addition to publishing WWE Magazine, WWE Specials and WWE Kids magazine, 23 of WWE’s books have reached the New York Times best seller list. Its WWE Magazine reaches 4.3 million readers each month.
WWE has upped its efforts to lure bigger advertisers, recently working with Mattel, Post Foods, Frito-Lay, Ford Motor Co., Gillette, Sony PlayStation, Disney, Paramount, General Mills, the Army National Guard, Kraft Foods, Nestle and Colgate to sponsor PPV events, TV shows and digital content.
WWE’s roster includes 140 Superstars and Divas, many of whom train at WWE’s Performance Center, a facility that opened last year in Orlando, Fla. Newer wrestlers perform on “WWE NXT,” which holds its live tapings at Full Sail U’s performance venue, Full Sail Live, giving students enrolled in the university’s entertainment-focused degree programs the opportunity to work on the show. John Cena is the company’s biggest star, generating the most money from merchandise sales and sponsorship deals.
Its weekly series include flagship “Monday Night Raw” on USA Network, along with “Friday Night SmackDown” (Syfy), “WWE Main Event” (Ion TV) and “Total Divas” (E!). “WWE Superstars” and “WWE NXT” stream on the WWE Network and Hulu Plus. WWE is currently negotiating with NBCUniversal to increase its licensing fees in order to double the $139.5 million it made last year from its series. All WWE broadcast programming, watched by nearly 15 million in the U.S. each week, is rated TV-PG. Its international broadcasting partners include BSkyB, Sky Italia, Ten Sports, TV Azteca, Foxtel and Sky Deutschland.
Launched Feb. 24, the streaming network, available on most digital platforms in the U.S., costs members $9.99 a month. Subscribers get access to original shows and more than 1,500 hours of archived matches, including all the pay-per-view events the company has produced since 1984. The network will also host all of WWE’s 12 future PPV events, including this year’s “WrestleMania 30.” Company hopes to sign up 1 million subscribers by the end of the year, helping the network break even.