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WWE Live to make a comeback in India; Ten Sports plans aggressive marketing

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NEW DELHI: Even as TNA is bringing its Impact Wrestling live event to Mumbai this December, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is gearing up to bring some of the top names in wrestling to perform live in Delhi this coming January.

The event, which will be held at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium on 15 and 16 January, 2016, marks the comeback of WWE Live in India after a span of 13 years. WWE Raw was last held in India in November 2002.

The legendary Danial Bryan, one of WWE’s brand names, who is temporarily out of action under medical advice, was here along with WWE president international Gerrit Meier and Taj TV and Ten Sports CEO Rajesh Sethi to announce the event.

Sethi said they were expecting a full house at the stadium, which can seat approximately 20,000 people.

On the other hand, with its eyes focused on the lucrative Indian market, WWE is also planning to build consumer parks in India in the near future, informed Meier. It may be recalled that the company launched its video streaming service WWE Network in the Indian sub-continent a few days back.

For the live event in Delhi, WWE and Ten Sports will be aggressively marketing it with a significant amount of investment. While declining to reveal expected revenue figures, Sethi said that around five to seven per cent of the total investment in the live event will go into marketing.

So far five sponsors have been roped in for the live event, whereas negotiations were on with as many as 15 more brands. However, Sethi refused to divulge any names. 

The two-day live event, which will feature WWE SmackDown and WWE Raw, will see names like John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Big Show, Sheamus, Cesaro and Ryback. Tickets are priced between Rs 1699 - 7999. While the sale of a limited number of tickets was done today, the rest will be sold from 10 November onwards.

When queried as to why there were no prominent Indians in WWE, Meier said that this kind of wrestling required a lot of training and some US-based Indians were currently under training and may soon be seen on screen.

According to Meier, India had been chosen for the live event because of the large number of WWE fans in the country. “WWE holds around 440 events every year and we’ve held events in countries like Japan and Malaysia but India is a major market for us,” he said.

What’s more, WWE is also expecting fans from neighbouring countries like Pakistan to come to India for this live event.

On the television front, by offering a compelling storyline each week, WWE was largely skewed towards the family audience and Meier said that they had found the right partners in Ten Sports and Zee Cinema. The telecast on both the channels had gained popularity and was one the major reasons for WWE renewing the telecast agreement with the broadcasters through 2019. WWE and Ten Sports began their association in India in 2003.

While the WWE telecast on Ten Sports received a lot of traction from viewers, Sethi said that the reason to bring it on Zee Cinema in Hindi was because WWE was now perceived as family entertainment. “We live telecast some WWE events on Ten Sports from the US. Moreover, Zee Cinema has helped take this event to the hinterland and expand the viewer base with the Hindi dubbing. Zee Cinema is one of the five top movie channels in India and reaches 150 million homes. As WWE is now considered as entertainment, it was only justified that it should be on a movie channel,” he added.

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