Most are probably familiar with the circumstances surrounding the WWE's attempt to put on its first true super card, WrestleMania, and how much of a financial risk it was for Vince. But in the end it paid off and put WWF on the map at that moment in time. Fast forward to today, and we see the same event barely bump WWE Network subscriptions by 250,000 and most of them end up never becoming paying customers. Is it time for WWE to take another risk with its flagship event to garner more casual attention? Possible options:
- Simulcasting on network television and alternative media. The first Super Bowl was simultaneously broadcast on CBS and NBC. If WWE could leverage its relationship with FOX or NBC, as well as other alternative IP-based platforms (e.g. YouTube, Facebook Watch, Twitch), it should get them a great deal more exposure. It would obviously also be aired live on the WWE Network without commercials, with exclusive content and contests for those already subscribed.
- Halftime Show. I know most wrestling fans cringe at the idea, and the last thing WrestleMania needs to be is longer, but if done right (i.e. not by Vince), it's one of the best methods of "eventification." This doesn't necessarily need to be a permanent thing, but wrestling parlayed into the mainstream in the 80s by leveraging celebrity and mainstream exposure (e.g. MTV), and the Super Bowl really became a cultural force when it started to include iconic halftime performances (19 of the top-20 most watched telecasts in the USA are the Super Bowl, and only one of the them (1986) is from prior to 1993 when MJ performed and NFL started to seriously invest in the halftime show).
- Exponentially lower the cost of a commercial license to broadcast content. Currently the WWE can charge over $5000.00 (through Joe Hand Productions) for a commercial license to broadcast a single PPV (far more than UFC), depending on establishment fire code occupancy. Vince is so haughty he assumes that a WWE event will fill out a sports bar and thus charges an astronomical price, which ends up being counterproductive to grassroots/groundswell marketing. WWE is basically in a place right now where it should be begging for any casual exposure it can get, not making access to its content cost-prohibitive. Lower the price, include complimentary promotional material etc.