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George Barrios on How The Transition From John Cena to Roman Reigns Affected WWE’s Business, The Company’s 2019 Successes

January 15, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
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– WWE Co-President George Barrios participated in a Q&A at the 2020 Global TMT West Conference last week and discussed the company’s successes and challenges in 2019. Barrios discussed how the company considers the upgrade to the WWE Network a success in terms of smoothness of transition, while also touching on how roster injuries in early 2019 and the “generational transition” from John Cena to Roman Reigns affected the company. You can check out the highlights below as well as the full audio via the Wrestlenomics Podcast:

On what worked for the company in 2019: “So, a lot of activity. Probably the biggest thing that went well was the transition to the new platform of our [direct to consumer] service [the new WWE Network platform]. I think if you — and we do — but you watch a lot bigger organizations than us who are either launching, or are moving from one platform to another. And it usually comes along with a really, really rough early going. While ours wasn’t, I wouldn’t say it was seamless, it actually worked really really well in terms of our fans and to ensure the continuity to access the events and so on. That was a lot of work from a lot of people at WWE. Multiple functions, content function, the product function, the core tech function, the marketing function. And so, that was great.”

On how the on-screen product affected the Network: “Probably the thing that, you know — and to some degree a little bit out of our control, but you know we’d like to think we control quite a bit — was the engagement over the first few months of the year. And obviously, we’re going through a generational transition, from John Cena handing the baton to Roman [Reigns]. So if you think back to the history of WWE, it was Andre to Hulk Hogan, to Stone Cold, to The Rock, to John Cena. It’s now moving to Roman. And in that that transition, or during that transition, we had what was [a] somewhat unique confluence of injuries and absences for a variety of reasons earlier in the year. And that, you could definitely feel it on the engagement metric. So I would say that was probably — not probably, it was unforeseen heading into the year. But all in all, ’19 was a pretty seminal event.”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit the Wrestlenomics Podcast with a h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.