By Allison J. Waldman
Special to TelevisionWeek
At the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing Summit in Boston, World Wrestling Entertainment will be recognized for successfully promoting and selling its new subscription video-on-demand service, WWE 24/7.
“This is the only place you can go for vintage wrestling footage as far back as the 1950s,” said Lisa Richards, director of affiliate marketing for WWE. “Subscribers pay one low monthly price and they get unlimited access to the best of classic and current wrestling, anytime they want-24 hours, seven days a week.”
Initially, WWE aggressively set out to sign up loyal fans for WWE 24/7. “Our goal was to target our fans that have purchased past pay-per-view, who have the highest probability to subscribe to this new service,” Ms. Richards said. WWE first launched a multitactical campaign, employing both traditional and nontraditional media. It used bill stuffers, telemessaging and on-air promotions, as well as arena messages and Jumbotron trailers at WWE live events. After two months, had gotten off to a good start. However, in the third month, subscription sales stalled.
WWE marketers were aware that some customers would have to be convinced to sign up because of the technology itself. “On-demand is still a relatively new media platform,” Ms. Richards said. “People are still getting used to it-just like the Web, with the plethora of television programming now available. It’s a good time for a company like us to be helping the cable operators by marketing this platform in a way they may not be able to do on their own.”
To stimulate interest in the VOD service and sign up new subscribers, WWE turned to its fan base. The best way to reach the fans was through telemarketing. “We were looking for incremental growth,” Ms. Richards said. “lends itself to telemarketing. This company is a marketing machine and we have a very loyal and passionate fan base. They want to talk to us, and that’s why telemarketing is so great. They want to talk wrestling. Telemarketing is a new tactic for 24/7, but it’s a great tool because we know our fans. Telemarketing is the best way to close the deal.”
Unlike many other upgraded services, was presented to potential subscribers without a discount offer or promotion. “We don’t use an offer because they want the service and like the product,” Ms. Richards said. “They’re demanding it. We actually have waiting lists of fans who want to be notified when their cable systems are going to offer WWE 24/7.”
Within three months WWE had contacted more than 16,000 customers who had purchased WWE pay-per-view programming at one time or another, and nearly 2,500 agreed to upgrade to WWE 24/7. That exceeded the company’s expectations as well as industry standards.
“The fans have been very responsive. The qualitative results are very positive about the new service,” Ms. Richards said. “They’re using the product. We’re hearing that they’re using other on-demand products because of this experience. It’s also a great retention tool because once they’ve upgraded, they’re not going to go back. They want to stay on the platform just to get our service.”
Ms. Richards and her WWE marketing team are pleased with the results thus far, and they’re proud to be recognized by CTAM. Said Ms. Richards, “As a company, we’re excited. We said we were going to do for the video-on-demand platform what WWE did for the pay-per-view platform 20 years ago-that is, to be a tool to help market the product and get more people familiar with it. We think in the short time that has been available that we are demonstrating the power of the WWE marketing machine in terms of getting fans to the platform and demonstrating the power of the content to keep fans on that platform.”