For WWE’s flagship WrestleMania 34 annual event on Sunday, April 8, the company is pumping out a range of new interactive digital content — designed to sweep fans into the hype before, during and after the festivities.
WWE’s orchestrated push to promote WrestleMania is aimed at driving new subscribers to its WWE Network service to watch the main event. But it’s just as much about super-serving fans with more original and exclusive material, said Jayar Donlan, executive VP of digital and social content.
“We’re always embracing new technologies to engage younger fans,” said Donlan, noting that WWE and its talent combined have more than 850 million social-media followers.
A big new element this year: an augmented-reality preview of the match between WWE’s AJ Styles (pictured above) and Shinsuke Nakamura, which will let users watch avatars of the grapplers go at it ahead of their WrestleMania meeting.
The content with the WWE Superstars was captured at one of Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Capture Studios in Redmond, Wash., last month, using an array of more than 100 cameras. It’s available in the AR section of Littlstar’s apps on a range of VR/AR platforms, letting users see Styles and Nakamura go head-to-head right in front of them.
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On Snapchat, WWE is launching a new 3D Bitmoji lens featuring John Cena, which will let Snapchat users worldwide challenge the popular WWE Superstar in a match. (Here’s a hint: You probably won’t win.)
Also on Saturday, Snapchat’s Discover page will feature a WWE “Our Story” comprised of user-submitted Snaps in anticipation of WrestleMania. On Sunday, WWE’s Our Story will have complete coverage of the event, from the perspective of both WWE Superstars and fans.
WWE execs declined to comment on the economics of the partnership with Snapchat, saying the latest executions are part of their two-year-old relationship.
The entertainment company also is launching an assortment of virtual-reality content in association with NextVR, which WWE is working with to produce VR content throughout the year. The WrestleMania VR content is sponsored exclusively by Snickers, WrestleMania’s overall presenting sponsor.
NextVR has compiled a 2-minute VR highlight reel of WWE content, located in the Snickers booth at the WrestleMania Axxess four-day fan festival. Visitors will have the opportunity put on a PlayStation VR headset to check out a preview of WrestleMania in virtual reality. In addition, clips from WrestleMania 34 will be available in the NextVR app a few days after the event’s conclusion.
Other content related to WrestleMania 34 includes: WWE Superstar video diaries from Asuka and Jeff Jarrett; WrestleMania Workouts featuring Braun Strowman, Randy Orton, Ronda Rousey and Aleister Black; WWE Now Live with Cathy Kelley on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter; and original Facebook and Instagram Stories.
WrestleMania 34, being held in New Orleans, will stream live around the world April 8 on the WWE Network.
Last year’s WrestleMania 33 was the most active social event in WWE’s history, with 5.19 million interactions on Facebook and Twitter during the broadcast alone, according to Nielsen Social. Overall, WWE said its content generated 20 billion video views in 2017 — up 32% year over year — while social-media engagements rose 4%, to 1.2 billion.