With live sports and entertainment events coming to a halt all over the world due to COVID-19, WWE, a publicly traded global media organization and recognized leader in entertainment, turned to technology, enabling the company to continue delivering the live entertainment and excitement its millions of fans around the world love and demand.

For the first time, WWE brought fans back into the live arena – virtually – with WWE ThunderDome. WWE ThunderDome, launched August 21, is a first-of-its-kind large-scale interactive live platform which audiences had never seen or experienced before. Fans were not only able to see the action, they were able to experience it, becoming a part of the show and interacting live with WWE’s Superstars – as if they were there in person.

WWE ThunderDome features a state-of-the-art set, video boards, pyrotechnics, lasers, cutting-edge graphics and drone cameras to provide viewers with a reimagined live event spectacle. Featuring Virtual Seat technology – an ultra-low-latency, cloud-based, interactive audio and video streaming platform that brought thousands of fans back into the WWE arena in real time, at the same time – WWE ThunderDome delivered WWE’s live arena experiences to fans during the COVID-19 pandemic from the comfort of their home.

Through Virtual Seat, an immersive real-time, multi-user streaming platform developed by WWE and their technology partner, The Famous Group, thousands of fans were brought back into the arena. The Virtual Seat system uses proprietary real-time data compression technology to minimize the bandwidth required to send and receive 1,000 simultaneous two-way video streams, delivering an ultra-low latency user experience with unparalleled control, moderation, scalability and customization of content. Being web-based, fans could access it via any web-enabled device, anywhere in the world, with a broadband internet connection.

With that low latency critical to delivering the experience, the entire system was exhaustively tested to optimize both web-based video transport and on-premise media server systems, eliminating all possible points of processing overhead, bringing latency down to just milliseconds.

With live programming delivered 52 weeks a year to a global audience, WWE can be seen in more than 900 million homes worldwide in 28 languages through world-class distribution partners including NBCUniversal, FOX Sports, BT Sport, Sony India and Rogers.

WWE fans are at the heart of the company’s success, and with fans no longer physically attending events, WWE continued to reimagine the in-arena atmosphere that is synonymous with WWE. WWE experimented with new ways to add more energy into live TV programming during the COVID pandemic. The company looked at what other leagues were doing and decided to lead with an innovative experience that was right for WWE and its fans.

With a longstanding history of producing the greatest live spectacles in sports and entertainment, WWE strategically transformed its business model during what was a challenging year in sports and entertainment to be there for the company’s staff, fans, performers, shareholders and business partners.

Understanding the company had to innovate—and continuing to stay ahead of the curve during these extraordinary times—WWE unveiled WWE ThunderDome. With more than 1,000 fans welcomed back into the arena virtually via proprietary technology provided from The Famous Group, WWE recreated the interactive in-arena atmosphere that has been a staple of its events for decades.

To date, more than 750,000 from 226 countries and territories have registered to experience the spectacle firsthand. Additionally, the launch of WWE ThunderDome not only halted declining ratings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has also grown viewership of flagship programming by 9%.

As WWE returns to live event touring with fans in attendance beginning July 16, 2021 WWE ThunderDome allowed the company to never skip a beat and deliver live weekly content in new ways to fans and broadcast partners worldwide, helping WWE to achieve record revenue and profit during what was an unprecedented year.