The WWE Network has been the focal point of much of the promotions that WWE can push out right now, and by all means, it is about as innovative and customer friendly as you can get. But will it raise the WWE’s stock, or lower it?
First off, let me start by saying I am all for the Network. It is a fantastic innovation that Vince McMahon has dreamed up. For a simple $10 a month, the ‘WWE Universe’ will be able to watch any and all Pay Per Views as well as exclusive content such as reality shows and backstage interviews. Total Divas and the new show called ‘Legends House’ are two of the shows that will be featured on the Network.
Fans are no doubt delighted by this fact. $10 a month compared to $60 for every PPV is a no brainer within a consumer mindset. Plus with the Network we can finally open up the possibility of more PPV’s happening abroad. With the WWE no longer focussing on how many sales they get per show, and the ability to rewind to any PPV, American fans wouldn’t be too concerned if Summerslam or Wrestlemania came to Wembley Stadium, as they would be able to watch it whenever they wanted to. Therefore this means that the WWE would be able to expand further than just the two European tours that they currently do per year. This would therefore bring their brand to a new level internationally. We haven’t seen a Pay Per View on these shores since October 26th 2002 when the SmackDown! Pay Per View Rebellion aired for the very last time. It really is shocking to think that a company as big as WWE doesn’t cater better for the international market and hasn’t done for the last 12 years. Before that, they put on at least one show a year here.
Another brilliant thing about the Network is that it will attract even more casual fans to pump money into WWE’s business. With the incredibly low price that WWE have set, even people who haven’t watched WWE in years could potentially be brought back into the fold. After all $10 a month is nothing really.
But could the price be a bad thing? UFC President Dana White has said he doesn’t understand why Vince McMahon would do this as it “depreciates the value of his company”. Is this true? Let’s do a quick breakdown. Let’s just quickly look at Summerslam 2013. Considered to be the 3rd biggest show of the year, you would expect a heap of PPV buys. Summerslam got 296,000 buys, even with Daniel Bryan beating John Cena clean, as well as the Randy Orton/HHH heel turns. So Summerslam got 296,000 buys and at $60 a piece, would reach a grand total of $17.76m (obviously that’s not taking into account the money the PPV provider would take from that, which is approximately 60 – 80% of the fee) This would mean that in order to replicate Summerslam’s business, a whopping 1,776,000 people would have to be watching. (On a LFL basis, PPV fees aside, of which the WWE Network would have 100% of). That’s more than any Wrestlemania buyrate as far as I recall! However let’s not forget that WWE will continue to offer PPV via the traditional methods also for people who choose not to subscribe to the WWE Network.
But let’s not be naive here. At $10 a month, millions of people are going to buy this. Whether it be for themselves, their children or whatever, there is going to be so much demand for it. With access to the entire backlog of WWE Pay Per Views, old school fans will be interested in purchasing it almost as much as new fans. But again, there is a draw back to them having the entire backlog of PPV’s, as their DVD sales will become almost non-existent – apart from documentaries/box sets.
The main draw back could well be for the WWE superstars themselves. What will happen to their Pay Per View bonuses? After all, that was apparently one of the main reasons CM Punk left the WWE. Especially airing the Network just before WrestleMania, it seems like it could be a shortcut used by WWE to cut their expenditure on bonuses for the hard working superstars who bust their asses 300 days a year.
Personally I can’t wait for the WWE Network. Unfortunately, it will only venture outside of the US of A around late 2014/early 2015, so we won’t see it just yet over here.
Time will only tell as to whether it will be as successful as WrestleMania or as lacklustre as the XFL. Vince has had a few brainchild’s. Which one will this emulate?
– By Dan Lloyd
Will the WWE Network help or hinder WWE in the future? Have your say in the Comments section below!