March 9, 2007
WWE Expands Mobile Content in Exclusive Cingular Deal

World Wrestling Entertainment has launched a significant mobile platform deal this week with Cingular Wireless. According to the WWE's announcement yesterday on, by Noah Starr, the WWE will be launching significant media content for Cingular customers.

The service launched yesterday, and fans who have third-generation capable video phones and the Cingular video package, which costs $19.99 a month can automatically receive previews for upcoming WWE pay-per-view events, a collection of WWE News, and video clips like WWE's Slam of the Week, featuring a significant event from one of the WWE's three major weekly television shows.

What's more, the WWE is launching a service called WWE Premium Video that will cost an extra $4.99 per month. According to Starr's story for WWE, the service will include "exclusive videos, interviews, classic clips, hot Diva action and more," particularly a series of "Wrestlemania Magic Moments" right now, as they build for their biggest pay-per-view event of the year.

The Cingular service also allows for the chance to shop for various WWE multimedia offerings for the phone.

The WWE will provide approximately 100 video clips per month to Cingular customers through the premium service.

The folks at Deadspin point out that now you can get "Jerry Lawler on your cell phone." And, as we pointed out a few days ago, you can also see Jerry Lawler's art soon through his project with DC Comics.

Eric Morath with Detroit News writes, "The tag-team between AT&T and WWE could potentially pay dividends for both. WWE gains access to 61 million AT&T cell customers and AT&T can aim its products at WWE fans, 15 million who watch wrestling wekly" (sic).

AT&T Marketing Vice-President John Burbank is quoted in Morath's story as saying, "Our strategy is to work with big brands that have loyal and passionate fans," he said. 'WWE will craft exclusive content for us."

Both the press and the blogosphere have pointed out that this is a significant deal in terms of moving toward the next phase of mobile content, even if some reporters have gotten in their asinine digs at the wrestling fan base, such as with Eric Zeman with InformationWeek, who writes, "I think we can all breathe a little easier knowing that mankind has hit its zenith. What more could we want out of life but to view wrestling matches on our mobile phones? It's all downhill from here." He both calls wrestling weird and then makes the immediate jump to figure all wrestling fans must like NASCAR. I'll direct Zeman to the class blog for my MIT class on pro wrestling this semester to show that there are plenty of intelligent adults conversing on the pro wrestling world. (That cheap plug was attempted in true Mick Foley fashion.)

I do agree with Zemath's question, though: "As much as I believe mobility is an important pathway to the future, does absolutely everything have to be monetized, reformatted, squished and pushed to our phones?"

No, I don't think everything necessarily fits on a mobile platform, but I think WWE's deal is strong. While I have written before about what I feel the dangers of gated content are, this deal provides nothing new but a way to share existing content through mobile devices. In this case, you don't anger non-Cingular fans by providing something new and exclusive only to Cingular members, but you provide a way for Cingular fans to share videos with others on mobile devices, watch clips on a commute, etc.

One reporter who seemed to have a particularly good take on this deal is Eric Linask with Internet Telephony, who writes:

Obviously, this content offering is not for everyone, but WWE has a large fan base -- and it is a passionate one, full of people who have followed the organization since the late Vincent J. McMahon grew the business in the 1950s and 60s. These fans not only follow WWE via its weekly shows on television, but also through online properties, PPV events, print publications, and videos. Numerous WWE stars have also appeared in full-length Hollywood films. Give WWE's propensity for providing its content via any and all possible avenues, it was only a matter of time before it teamed with a mobile provider.
According to Linask, "The two companies plan to launch several services, including a cutting-edge mobile Internet portal that will provide access to a deep library of content." Through its acquisition of various tape libraries, that archive continues to expand, as part of the WWE 24/7 project.

Look here for information about WWE's Mobile Alerts launched last year.

The project comes alongside WWE's recent launch of a centralized broadband video network on its Web site.