India is one of the most important international markets for WWE: John Brody
With a focus on deeper fan engagement, increasing consumption, WWE held its largest & first-ever tryouts in India to select deserving athletes to join the global WWE network
In an effort to increase engagement with its India fan base, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) held the first-ever WWE tryouts in India in Mumbai between March 2-5. The tryouts saw widespread participation from male and female athletes experienced in kushti, kabaddi, wrestling, basketball, combat sports, cricket and bodybuilding from Mumbai, Delhi, Gwalior, Chandigarh, and Rohtak, among and other cities across the country, all hopeful of being selected to join the WWE network.
With 80 potential candidates from India, 20 of whom were women, this was also the largest tryouts in WWE history globally. Having been in India for 25 years, India is the biggest market for WWE outside the US, in terms of fan base with 386 million unique TV viewers annually. While globally, digital engagement continues to grow with video views up 57% to 31.4 billion and hours consumed up 77% to 1.2 billion across digital and social media platforms in 2018, India is the number one market in the world for WWE in terms of Facebook and Youtube viewers.
Talking about the importance of the Indian market, John Brody, Executive Vice President of Global Sales and Head of International, WWE said, “WWE does 550 live events per year in 70 international cities. WWE is also available in 180 countries in 27 different languages. I am proud that the largest tryout in WWE history took place in Mumbai to an audience and fans that has been so passionate for WWE for so long. While we currently have nine members of Indian descent as part of WWE, the tryouts are an attempt to increase that number, while helping more men and women to realize their dream of becoming WWE superstars.”
Currently, WWE has an exclusive partnership with Sony which extends to its shows being screened on Sony Ten 1, Sony Ten 3, Sony Max. The shows are also available on Sony’s OTT platform SonyLIV. Apart from this, it also connects with fans through social media channels like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter, as well as through promotional Talent Tours which are held 2-3 times a year in India, retail visits and Live Events.
In terms of advertising and marketing for WWE, Sony has a number of brands on board for its WWE programming including Unilever, Coverfox, and Trivago, among others. “Sony is a tremendous marketing partner for us. They have invested heavily over the years to diversify and to provide more opportunity for fans. What we find is our content ecosystem is so rich that there are many ways for us to interact with fans. So, we rely on those as a primary component to how we connect with fans because we are on every week, 52 weeks a year with no off-season, no off-day, unlike other sports,” remarks Sheetesh Srivastava, WWE VP and General Manager, South Asia.
Going forward, as part of its localisation strategy in India, WWE is looking at developing more local talent, increasing the number of local languages for its shows, and creating more localized shows, besides working with its social media team to create more local content to connect with a wider audience. “We are always searching to be a part of what’s next, to innovate, to reimagine. Keeping this in mind, our immediate focus is deeper fan engagement, increasing consumption and sustainable growth, with the ultimate goal of creating a deeper connection with the WWE universe in India,” concludes Brody.
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