Rogers Becomes New Enforcer of WWE Network
Rogers has entered the ring through a ten-year agreement with World Wrestling Entertainment that will give the cable giant exclusive broadcast and distribution rights to existing WWE programming such as Raw, Smackdown and pay-per-view events.
The company will also take over the WWE Network, a wrestling channel that made its debut in the U.S. in February. Thus far, the channel has been marketed as “the Netflix of wrestling,” in which subscribers pay $9.99 a month to have access to wrestling-related programming such as reality shows, archival content and live monthly pay-per-view events.
Unlike its U.S. incarnation, Canada’s WWE Network will not initially be available as a standalone service. Viewers will have to first subscribe to a TV provider and then pay an additional fee to access the channel.
David Purdy, senior vice president of content at Rogers, commented on the subscription service by saying, “This is not about us preventing access or throttling access to the channel. What we plan on doing is exploding access to this channel.”
Rogers has yet to finalize pricing, but they intend to keep it close to the current cost. At present, WWE charges subscribers $9.99 a month if they agree to a six-month commitment or $19.99 per month with no lock-in. So far, the service has amassed some 700,000 subscribers, with many of them praising its value. When purchased individually, WWE’s monthly pay-per-views can cost upwards of $40 each.
The WWE Network will also be available through Rogers’ apps, enabling subscribers to view it on their smartphones and tablets.
In regard to the future, Purdy did not rule out a standalone option that would allow viewers to access the channel without having to subscribe to a TV provider. Fans may eventually be able to get Jake “The Snake” Roberts without Damien The Python.
“We’re always looking at making products and services that appeal to youth and young adults. We’re going to do whatever it takes to have relevant subscription products for them,” he said. “We’ll make sure there are more people subscribing on a per-capita basis to the WWE service than there are in the U.S.”
Both companies remained mum on the financial terms of the deal.
The purchase is a smart one for Rogers, as the company will be locking in programming that viewers want to see live instead of on DVR or on demand. The length of the deal also bodes well for Rogers, as it allows ample time for development and expansion of viewership.
“If it’s a two-year renewal or a three-year renewal, you’re not really making the medium- and long-term investments necessary to grow both businesses,” Purdy said. “If it’s too short, that’s not a partnership, that’s speed dating.”
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.