Opinion: What the Esports Industry Can Learn From WWE

March 23, 2020

I often find myself discussing the question of whether esports is closer to sports or entertainment. While I strongly believe that athleticism, winning, and performing at the highest level is part of the equation, I also believe that esports is closer to Game of Thrones than it is to the NFL. It’s entertainment. The one company I often use as an analogy is World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

Yes, I know, it’s a soap opera. I won’t discuss the actual storylines, but what I want to examine are some of the different angles people take when talking about WWE and its potential as a model for esports. 

To Begin With: What is WWE?

On its website, WWE describes itself as “an integrated media organization and recognized leader in global entertainment. WWE’s operations are organized around the following three business activities: media, live events, and consumer products.” While I acknowledge the structural differences between the current esports ecosystem and WWE’s operation, I feel that its description would fit very well for today’s tier 1 esports organizations. Even though esports teams do not typically organize tournaments, their operation is aligned with them, as they send their teams around the world to compete. I know there is a lot more to talk about, and that WWE is not just all smiles and sunshine, but in this piece, I want to examine WWE’s three primary business activities and why I believe esports can learn a lot from WWE. 

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