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Going to the Mat for HD: WWE’s Mike Grossman

Mar 6, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The player: Mike Grossman, senior VP of television operations at World Wrestling Entertainment
The play: The surprisingly low-key Mr. Grossman, a 20-year veteran of WWE, led the organization’s one-year, $20 million transition into high-definition broadcasting, which included rebuilding its Stamford, Conn., studios. Modifying two production trucks cost about $9 million alone, Mr. Grossman said. WWE, which began airing in HD in January, has five hours a week of original programming on networks such as USA, in addition to broadcasting 16 three-hour pay-per-view events.
The pitch: HD’s primary benefit to WWE is in the form of repackaging content for films and other forms of digital media, which accounted for 10% of WWE’s revenue last year, up from 6.8% in 2006. “We repurpose our programming so heavily that, in the long run, we felt that HD would be beneficial,” Mr. Grossman said.
The challenge: Competition from other sporting events drove WWE’s investment in HD, not television ratings, which Mr. Grossman doesn’t expect to change after the move to HD. Television and live events accounted for about two-thirds of WWE’s $485.7 million in revenue last year. “Strictly as a program provider, there’s not a financial upside,” Mr. Grossman said. “But if you’re going to be viewed as serious television entertainment, you need to be in HD. It’s hard to watch sports in standard definition now.”
Backstory: Mr. Grossman, 45, joined WWE in 1988 as an editor after working at a Philadelphia post-production house editing commercials. “I wasn’t an active fan when I joined, but as you get involved, you realize it’s a lot of fun to work in this business,” Mr. Grossman said. He grew up in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley and graduated from Kutztown University.

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