Stephanie McMahon: 'Canceling' WWE Wouldn't Elicit Change, It Takes Listening And Finding Solutions

Stephanie McMahon says WWE is still listening to fans and they continue to track data on how to improve and what works in the company.

Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Stephanie McMahon discussed how WWE engages with fans through various means, noting that a live crowd dictates where the company will go with storylines.

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When asked why she believes fans are willing to let their voices be heard rather than giving up on the product, Stephanie responded, "Because we've responded to fan feedback in the past, they knew they could have an impact and really help make this change happen. They had seen us making changes in our 'WWE NXT' program, which features up-and-coming performers and is akin to a minor league system. We had already started to recruit elite female athletes and train them the same way we train men. We started giving them the same amount of match time, exposure, and opportunities, and they started to steal the show. During those matches, the audience chanted, 'This is wrestling!' and 'Women’s wrestling!' The fans loved it, and they wanted us to do more. Simply “canceling” us wouldn’t have necessarily elicited change. Sometimes it takes really listening to one another and coming up with solutions to elicit change."

Stephanie said that they not only listen to the live audience, but they gather feedback through "digital and social media to determine which storylines and performers are resonating, and why."

She offered more color on how they gather feedback during the pandemic era by saying, "The bottom line is that we want to be where our audience is. We keep an eye on up-and-coming platforms and test them. For example, my husband (Paul “Triple H” Levesque) and I have gone on Clubhouse, an audio chat app, and experimented with that. Digital and social media have always allowed brands to test and learn quickly, but especially in this COVID era, brands are feeling the permission to do that even more. You can’t be afraid to fail—try something, and if it doesn’t work, that’s okay. Now more than ever, consumers want to be a part of your brand, and social media allows them to do that very easily. If they are willing to spend their time and money—their most valuable resources—on your brand, they want to feel connected to it. Ask your consumers questions, and listen to them. Then thank them for helping you. We currently have close to 60 data scientists working at WWE, constantly analyzing our data and synthesizing it. The team can, for example, track the impact a performer or storyline has on viewership and social media activity and tie increases in engagement to content that was airing at specific times during one of our TV programs. Merchandise sales are also a key indicator of how popular our stars are and whether they’re resonating. There’s a whole “cosplay” side to our business, where people want to dress the part of their favorite performer, so merchandise sales are an important metric. WWE Network, our streaming content platform, also provides data points that are helpful. Like many brands, we’re getting great at data collection. Where we can improve is in the analysis piece—determining which data is most meaningful and pulling out themes to apply across our business."

WWE will welcome back fans at WrestleMania 37 when 25,000 fans will be allowed inside Raymond James Stadium for the event.

After WrestleMania 37, the company will continue to run shows at The ThunderDome, which is moving to the Yuengling Center. You can learn more about the move by clicking here.

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