Shane McMahon grew up in the family entertainment business. At 6, he began working as a ring boy. Later, he stepped over the ropes and into the World Wrestling Federation as a referee. Eventually, he became a wrestler whose shifting allegiances and fancy footwork provided the plotlines that helped take the company now known as WWE global.
But in 2010, Mr. McMahon, 43, ditched his signature “Shane O Mac” baseball jersey to become CEO of You On Demand, a cable platform with offices in Union Square and Beijing.
“It’s the same business,” Mr. McMahon said. “It’s marketing. It’s promotion.”
His major role with the WWE was actually on the business side, working with his father, Vince, to spread wrestling’s pay-per-view offerings. This month, his new company launched the first nationwide video-on-demand platform in China, offering buy-at-home movies to a country that purchases $6 billion annually in pirated DVDs. Mr. McMahon has already signed agreements for 18.2 million homes in China and hopes to expand to 30 million by year’s end.
“The demographics, the demand, the relationships were all in the right place,” Mr. McMahon said. “That’s what made me leave: the gold ticket.”
The company has distribution agreements with the Chinese government, cable providers and Hollywood studios and plans to offer a kids channel.
Mr. McMahon’s mother, Linda, twice lost races for U.S. Senate in Connecticut, but Mr. McMahon has no interest in politics.
He still asks his famous father for advice. “I’m no fool,” the younger McMahon said. “The man is one of the greatest promoters of all time, in my view. And that’s why I understand this business and why it’s going to succeed: I’ve lived it.”