Thursday, October 5, 2023

WWE and Abema: How Their New Partnership Can Shake Up the Japanese Wrestling Scene

WWE and Abema (a popular Japanese streaming television service), have recently announced a new partnership. It's worth mentioning that Abema is owned by CyberAgent (the owner of NOAH, DDT, and other promotions) and TV Asahi (which is a minority owner of NJPW).

This partnership is significant for a number of reasons. First, it gives WWE access to the Japan market, which has a very established pro-wrestling scene- I have been interested in seeing WWE invest more in the Japan market for quite some time, and this partnership is a step in that direction. Abema has 6.52 million users per month and offers streaming media, video on demand, and television on demand. By partnering with Abema, WWE will reach a large and engaged audience of wrestling fans who live here.

Second, it gives Abema access to WWE's vast library of content, which includes episodes of Raw/SmackDown and Premium Live Events, many which include classic matches; as well as documentaries. All of this will make Abema a one-stop shop for WWE fans who subscribe. Abema can add to WWE's library by producing original programming featuring WWE Superstars who are very familiar to fans in Japan, such as AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Finn Balor, Asuka, IYO SKY, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson, all who have made their mark on the Japanese wrestling scene. In fact, now would be a perfect time for Nakamura to finally receive a much-earned WWE World Heavyweight Championship run on Raw or for Styles to end Roman Reigns' WWE Universal Championship reign, with Abema producing content about it, including behind-the-scenes footage and interviews that would engage its subscribers and attract new viewers. It's also worth noting that one of the main parts of primetime programming in Japan are reality shows- a WWE-related reality show would be very popular here.

And third, it could potentially lead to new and innovative ways to consume wrestling content in the future, by utilizing streaming technology. Also, something that would be a huge benefit to Abema would be offering tournaments or other events that would be shown exclusively on Abema.

Overall, the WWE and Abema partnership is a significant development with the potential to shake up the Japanese wrestling scene. As its landscape continues to change, many people no longer consume content the way that they used to. Streaming services are becoming increasingly popular, with consumers moving away from TV. This partnership could lead to new and innovative ways to watch wrestling, and it could also help to grow the WWE audience in new markets, especially since Abema already streams the content of other promotions, as well as other combat sports such as MMA and boxing.

It's still too early to say what the long-term impact of this partnership will be, but with WWE being the biggest company in the wrestling industry and Abema having a vested interest in it, I think it's safe to say that the Japanese wrestling scene is about to change for fans and members of the industry alike in a big way.

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