FITE is the premier digital network for combat sports. Accessible on the FITE App, supported by over 7,000 TV models, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, & more. Find more information on Fite.TV
Our own dougEwrestling was able to sit with FITE COO Michael Weber about FITE and its involvement with Professional Wrestling, his history in the wrestling business, FITE’s innovations, partnerships, & more! Check it out below or listen to the full interview in the latest of episode of STF Underground (player below).
On his start in professional wrestling…
“Well, I’ve been fortunate to work with some of the best people in the business. But it was purely by chance how I got into it. My background was actually in collegiate sports. I finished up my masters in sports administration, and knock on wood, 35 years later I’m still working in sports administration. Once I completed my degree, I spoke to the professor that was the head of the program, and I really wanted to work at Duke. A guy named Basil DeVito contacted the head of the program and said ‘Hey I got this thing called WrestleMania II coming up. Don’t need to know anything about wrestling, but I need somebody who knows a little bit about PR and stuff, and I need an intern. I said… ‘I’ll learn something at the very least. I knew who Hulk Hogan was and that was about it.”
Did your expertise & knowledge have anything to do with bringing wrestling to FITE?
“Absolutely, that’s how we got started. We came up with our concept with our CEO. Our platform had some entertainment and news, but it needed to be more focused. We did a test with WrestleKingdom VIII., and it worked. Then we did a test with Ring of Honor, then we did another test with IMPACT Wrestling. And we said, ‘Why don’t we go into the combat sports vertical?”
Have you gotten the chance since being in the business to sit down and enjoy anything you’ve done as a fan?
“Well, probably the coolest wrestling event that I ever worked with…I was a PR guy for WrestleMania III. Which if you might remember, if you were alive then, was in the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit and had 93,173 in there. I mean, I remember going down on the floor when guys were doing their entrances and their feet were not touching the ground because they were so pumped up and excited about running to the ring. It was such a cool event and such a turning point for wrestling in general and obviously for the WWF.”
FITE is known as an innovator in the segment. Are there any others that we can expect from FITE moving forward?
“There has been one innovation that actually just went live a couple of weeks ago and people might not realize its available, and we have a DVR function now. So when you’re watching a program live, you can actually pick it up live, but you can go back and start at an earlier point in the show and start watching it from that point. More and more people are making that available, but not as many as you would think have that capability in their app.
We’re always trying to tweak the recommendation engine, which tells you ‘Hey, if you like this, you probably will like this kind of show. If you like people getting hit over the head in GCW with florescent lightbulbs, you’re going to like Southern Violence Wrestling, which is even crazier yet that we have on our platform. We do have the full breadth of whatever your tastes may be.”
Is there a chance that FITE partners with the WWE?
“We ARE having conversations with the WWE regarding getting access to their Pay Per View events. Their big events that are available are available on Direct & DISH, & cable so we think they should also be available on our platform as well. There’s people who don’t want to buy their subscription who still want to see the event and are willing to pay the $49 or $59 price tag because their events are pivotal in the wrestling world that people want to see. Must watch events.
FITE streams many of the best live and pay-per-view events, and tens of thousands of hours of on-demand programming to millions of fans around the world. With 2,000 flawlessly delivered premium live events to date, we have the unprecedented fight record of 2000-0-0