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ESPN.com expands WWE coverage with new dedicated section

ESPN | WWE

When ESPN began airing weekly interviews with WWE talent last fall, there were a lot of eyebrows raised among the anti-wrestling collective as to why the two were getting into content bed together.

Imagine their reaction Thursday morning when ESPN officially launched a WWE section on their website -- a major happening for the Worldwide Leader In Sports.

The section will include news, results, profiles, championship lineages, and rankings with the Cheap Heat podcast as one of their flagship pieces of content. They have launched Twitter and Facebook accounts as well.

To be fair, ESPN has a lot of sections available for fans, ranging from major sports to niche ones like horse racing, endurance sports, and eSports in an effort to capture different audiences. Like with those other sports, adding WWE isn’t going to mean NFL and NBA coverage lessens.

What is going to be interesting to see play out is how ESPN covers WWE. Will they take an approach of kayfabe and analysis? Play it straight? If a major injury happens, could that get in the pole position on ESPN’s home page? If so, imagine the reaction from traditional sports fans and media critics alike.

But in a March media column penned by SI’s Richard Deitsch, the media critic (and wrestling fan) pointed out why ESPN was so interested in providing WWE coverage: the numbers.

Glenn Jacobs, senior coordinating producer of ESPN’s New & Next Group (a 25-30-person group that focuses on new content plays for the company), said his staff has spent a lot of time researching what ESPN viewers are paying attention to on social media.

They found that ESPN viewers are very interested in WWE content. For example: Last Monday’s WWE Raw, which airs on USA Network, was the most-talked about topic among SportsCenter’s nearly 26 million Twitter followers (The ESPN researchers look at hashtags and keywords). WWE content, in fact, drew three times as many as mentions as the second-most talked about topic that night​: LeBron James.

Jacobs said WWE Raw has been a top five talked-about topic over the last five weeks among SportsCenter followers on Twitter and a top 10 topic for 15 straight weeks.

“We are seeing a really strong and clear correlation between wrestling and those followers, and that helps make the argument all the more clear that this is something our fans care about,” Jacobs said. “So why should we not try to serve them? Data takes it out of the theoretical and into reality.”

The column also cited six figure video play counts for both Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns interviews as further proof why ESPN wants in the WWE business.

The wrestling media world officially has a new player. What happens next is anyone's guess.