X has announced a new, exclusive content deal with the WWE, adding more video programming into its growing slate of shows.
X and @WWE have partnered up to launch WWE Speed, a new weekly video series showcasing timed matches featuring your favorite WWE superstars distributed exclusively on X. Tune in for these fast-paced, action-packed faceoffs, coming in April. Who’s next?! pic.twitter.com/vlOodRylcd— Business (@XBusiness) February 9, 2024
As per the announcement, WWE will air a new, weekly show on X which will feature timed matches between popular WWE stars.
That could bring a lot of WWE fans to the app, depending on which stars are included in this program. X has also noted that in 2023, conversation about wrestling increased 11% year-over-year.
I mean, it’s difficult to quantify those results exactly, as X seems to have changed some of its measurements, but WWE is clearly popular in the app, with 13.7 million users following the main WWE account.
As noted, the new program will add to X’s growing slate of original content, as it moves to become a “video first platform”.
Thus far, X has signed exclusive video content deals with:
- Paris Hilton, on a yet to be announced project
- Tucker Carlson, whose interviews are regularly generating millions of views in the app
- Don Lemon, who’ll begin airing his new “Don Lemon Show” soon
- Tulsi Gabbard, who’s developing a series of documentary-style programs focused on U.S. politics
- Jim Rome, who’s bringing his popular “The Jungle” show to the app, airing five times a week
In addition to this, X is also working to incentivize top online creators to post to the app through improved ad revenue share deals, which it’s currently testing with YouTube star MrBeast, who’s re-posted some of his clips on X.
Given that MrBeast generates the majority of his income from YouTube, I don’t expect him to make the switch to X exclusively, though having any of his content in the app adds to its programming slate, and X will be hoping that he can make enough ad revenue in the app to then pique the interest of other creators.
Controversial podcast host Joe Rogan is also looking to re-share his content to X, which could include video of his broadcasts, while it may also be noteworthy that Elon Musk will reportedly be a guest of UFC CEO Dana White at this weekend’s “UFC Apex” in Las Vegas.
So while it may not be a killer slate of alternative video content as yet, X is building out its roster over time, while it’s also experimenting with a new, dedicated video tab in the app which could help to further highlight its programming.
Of course, Twitter before Elon also tried this same approach, with mixed results.
Back in 2016, Twitter made a big push on TV-like content, signing exclusive contracts with the MLB, NFL, and NBA to broadcast games directly in the app. That was part of a broader effort to connect the rise in live event tweeting with the source material. Twitter’s research had shown that it was the top destination for online engagement around live sports events and TV programs, and its view had been that if it could combine the two, it would then be able to build an entertainment powerhouse, capitalizing on both the content and the conversation in one stream.
But it didn’t work.
For whatever reason, users were not overly enamored by having tweets and the show running side-by-side, which could come down to the fact that only a relatively small number of people actually use Twitter, so restricting the content to a smaller audience by bringing in app reduced overall engagement.
Things, however, have changed since.
Social platforms are now bigger sources of entertainment in their own right, as opposed to just the related discussion, and maybe, given that more people are consuming more content direct in social apps, the time is now right for X to make this new push, which could provide significantly bigger advertising opportunities.
Signing controversial content also helps to boost Elon’s “free speech” agenda in the app, and it does seem like X will be looking to play a bigger role in political discussion within the upcoming election cycle through its video programming.
I guess, the question then will be what happens after, especially if advertisers continue to stay away from the app.
Elon’s long-held view is that it doesn’t really matter what he says, or what anyone else shares in the app, so long as it brings people in, because while businesses are keen to act principled on certain matters, all they really care about is their own bottom line. And if X can get to, say, a billion users, they’ll have to advertise in the app, whether they like it or not, because the audience reach will simply be too big to ignore, if X can win over that kind of attention.
It still seems unlikely that X can do that, but the X team will be hoping that this new exclusive content push will be the key to making this a reality, drawing in so many viewers across so many topic areas that it’ll simply become too compelling a draw for ad partners.
Again, past experience doesn’t bode well for this strategy, and X’s decision to focus on certain broadcasters and content could limit its potential either way.
But that’s the hope, and adding an exclusive WWE program into the mix is certainly a positive step.