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How Ronda Rousey is helping WWE crush it

For World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), the future is female. And during a recent earnings call, CEO Vince McMahon highlighted how former UFC champion turned pro-wrestler Ronda Rousey is helping to make it happen.

During the call, Needham analyst Laura Martin asked about whether Rousey, who has been rumored to be leaving WWE soon, would leave the WWE ring. McMahon didn’t answer the question head on, but he did discuss the importance of female talent on the business.

Bringing Ronda in gave us more visibility in terms of the initiative of reaching more women. And when you do something like that, it allows you to not just use Ronda's platform from a different niche to come into WWE. Ronda in and of herself becomes a brand of WWE. It's a different Ronda than what you saw before in terms of UFC and things of that nature. So when you put talent, rub talent, so to speak, up against Ronda, Ronda can help us make talent and she is doing just that. … So, the Rondas will come in and out, and when they do, as long as we know what those dates are, we plan around it.

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 27: Ronda Rousey and Sasha Banks at WWE's 2019 Royal Rumble in Phoenix, Arizona on January 27, 2019. Credit: George Napolitano/MediaPunch /IPX

WWE has invested heavily in its female performers, and not only Rousey. In April 2018, the company produced the second installment of the women’s professional wrestling tournament Mae Young Classic, and in October the company produced its first ever all-women’s pay-per-view event, aptly named “Evolution.”

On February 14, WWE will release the movie “Fighting with My Family”, directed by Stephen Merchant and starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, depicting the career of former WWE superstar Saraya-Jade Bevis, aka Paige, who will be played by Florence Pugh. Current WWE superstar Thea Trinidad aka Zelina Vega will also be featured in the film.

From left to right, cast members Florence Pugh, producer and cast member Dwayne Johnson, and WWE's Paige pose at the premiere of the film "Fighting With My Family" during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)

WWE’s push for female talent shows that the company engaging in the time-honored business tradition of listening to its consumers: Giving its fans what they want. WWE’s audience over the last few years has increasingly become more female. In 2015 more women watched WWE content than the prime-time average of TLC, Oxygen, HGTV, and the WE network.

On July 23, 2018, the Wrestling Observer noted something interesting when it came to WWE's female audience. During that night’s episode of “Monday Night Raw,” the female audience “was more loyal and actually grew, while the male audience became less interested as the show went on. In women ages 18-49, the first-to-third hour growth was 10% while the male drop was 1%. With teenage girls, the first-to-third hour growth was 15% while the male drop was seven percent.” So it is no surprise to see that WWE is harnessing the power of both its female talent and female viewers by creating quality content where women are at the center.

Needham sees more female content as an upside. “We believe that WWE is expanding its total available market by elevating women. … We believe the reason women wrestlers programming is more popular than … other women’s other professional sports is because WWE is viewed as entertainment,” Needham noted.

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For the WWE, the future really is female