The WWE wants to use new technology to get a stronger headlock on its fans.
The entertainment company, best known for professional-wrestling antics from the likes of Seth Rollins and Ryback, is hoping to draw viewers closer to its reality-competition program “WWE Tough Enough” by enlisting the aid of Twitter’s Periscope video-streaming app.
By checking in with the @WWEToughEnough account n Periscope, fans can examine how things might look through the eyes of the competitors on the show, which puts amateurs through their paces as they attempt to become the newest WWE Superstar or Diva. Fans can also check out guest appearances from host Chris Jericho, judges Hulk Hogan, Daniel Bryan and Paige as well as various wrestlers from the organization. The program airs Tuesdays on NBCUniversal’s USA network at 8 p.m. starting June 23.
“We’re confident that this is a new way of executing content and programming that keeps the content alive pretty much on a 24/7 basis,” said Lisa Fox, executive vice president of content for WWE. Show producers will place iPads connected to the show’s Periscope account on set and in the contestants’ barracks. Fox said: “It’s far more than just a camera. It’s an opportunity for our competitors to show off their personality and give the audience a look at what happens behind the scenes.”
The WWE’s maneuver suggests other program might seek to broaden their horizons with live-streaming apps. In an era when fans turn to Facebook pages devoted to specific programs and pass around clips from favorite series, it’s silly to imagine the shows are only “on” during their brief half-hour and 60-minute windows on TV. They are “on” when their fans want them to be.
Already, a new form of entertainment is tapping Periscope to reach fans. Producers of“@SummerBreak,” a content series that is distributed solely through social-media venues like Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram, announced earlier this week that they were expanding its distribution to Periscope.
“TV has always been a one-way street, where the TV kind of speaks to you,” said Danny Keens, who heads North American sports partnerships at Twitter. “Now we are moving it to an exciting era where the TV becomes multidimensional, he said, and can bring audiences together in new ways.
He envisions TV producers encouraging viewers to use Periscope to check in on rehearsals or pre-show preparations. One show might use Periscope to take viewers on a tour of a set, he suggested. Fox Sports anchors have already used the app to have conversations with viewers during commercial breaks, while Ellen DeGeneres has made use of it during her talk show.
“Tough Enough” would seem to have enough content to burst. The show’s downloadable mobile app already offers fans the chance to get video and social updates as the competition unfolds throughout the week.