The social media platform has secured exclusive rights to a live weekly show from WWE, “Mixed Match Challenge.” The 12-episode series is designed as a single-elimination, tag-team tournament pitting male and female stars from its Raw and SmackDown Live rosters — and will let fans get in on the action by voting on certain elements of the matches.
Facebook is paying WWE for the distribution rights to “Mixed Match Challenge,” however the agreement conditions have not yet been disclosed. After an unspecified window on the social platform, WWE will have the option to distribute the series as VOD on its over-the-top subscription streaming platform, WWE Network.
Each 20-minute live episode of “Mixed Match Challenge” will be produced in a way that’s optimized for mobile viewing and social interaction, according to WWE. Fans will have the opportunity to vote on Facebook for the final competitor from the Raw roster, as well as which tag-team member of The New Day will be added to the SmackDown Live team.
“It highlights our ability to create content specific for a social platform,” said Jayar Donlan, WWE executive VP of digital and social content. “Fan interaction is a big piece of it… It’s kind of like being at an event.”
“Mixed Match Challenge” episodes won’t carry advertising. Dan Reed, Facebook’s head of global sports partnerships, said the company is still testing ad insertion in live programming and expects to eventually sell advertising in content on Watch. In other words, Facebook is still essentially in the proof-of-concept phase of its video push.”
Reed said WWE, with a track record of experimenting with new formats and its strong digital footprint, was “an ideal partner to demonstrate how the live sports viewing experience can be reimagined on Facebook Watch.”
The winner of the WWE’s “Mixed Match Challenge” tournament will win $100,000 to be donated to the charity of their choice.
According to WWE, the storylines for “Mixed Match Challenge” will continue between episodes across WWE’s Facebook pages with short-form video and other content. WWE will also promote the series across its digital and social footprint.
On Facebook, WWE has nearly 500 million likes cumulatively across all pages (WWE’s main Facebook page has about 38 million followers), and star John Cena is the most-followed active U.S. athlete on Facebook with more than 45 million likes.