Thursday, October 30, 2014

WWE Network Number Remains Low And Is Cause For Concern

So drum roll and the number is 731,000 WWE Network Subscribers. This has to be viewed as nothing short of an absolute failure to this point. Keep in mind that number includes international markets with the exception of U.K and a few other markets. According to the WWE in their conference call, International subscribers’ only make up for 11% of the current subscriber number. Which if you read through the smoke and mirrors suggests that anyone internationally that wanted the network is pretending to be American and already had it for the most part.

Here in Canada the network remains a massive mess up as well with Rogers still the only provider of the network in Canada to date. WWE in their quarterly conference call admitted that the network is servicing only 20% of the Canadian Market at this time. As I wrote last night Rogers is in yet another heated battle with competitor Bell media and this likely will be a roadblock to the network ending up on Bell. The two companies have battled over the carrying of their rival sports networks for several years as they have expanded.

This does not even get into the fact of the total lack of on demand content on the network here in Canada. Which the WWE did stat would be expanded by 500 hours on their main platform in the U.S. This does not seem like a lot given the massive library they own.

Bottom line if you're Canadian and know ways around the system to get U.S content on the web why would you bother subscribing through your cable provider? It makes no sense to do so what so ever at this point and likely in the future going forward.

WWE just seems to be throwing things at a wall and seeing what sticks at this point. This really has been a huge failure to this stage with how they have handled the network.

In terms of the product itself, it becomes very clear why Brock Lesnar is not being used on Survivor Series with offering the network for free in November. This makes the idea of paying Brock what is high rate to appear make little to no sense. It already in my opinion makes the idea of paying Lesnar what they do while moving away from pay-per-view insane. I fully expect Brock to head back to the UFC after Wrestlemania because the WWE will not be in a position to pay him what they have been for the limited amount of dates he is willing to work or that they can afford. Lesnar as the WWE Heavyweight Champion was an interesting experiment but it is not going to work long-term. You can argue it hasn’t worked short term either as the Network numbers in the time he has been champion remain pretty much flat or even negative depending on how you view it.

Why I say that is if you subtract the 11% international subscribers the WWE technically lost network subscribers overall on their net domestically.

When the concept of a WWE Network for first announced years ago who could have imagined it would have been such a horrible failure to this point. It took years to come up with a model to get it off the ground. Despite attempts to get on traditional cable in line with sports counterparts like the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL all have in the last decade. They were never able to pull that off and decided to elect to go this new digital media route and it has turned into a nightmare in many respects.

WWE gave no indication of looking to make significant cuts to personal at this stage, as they seemed to suggest they already had done a majority of that. Still at this stage who knows if you are expendable in this company at the moment you should feel very worried.

In the end, this has been a mess, which clearly has been a major distraction from the product as a whole since the launch of the Network.  It has been an awful year not even factoring in curveballs like injuries that has made things even more challenging.

Chris Harrington a past guest on Condo on the Moon has a great breakdown of the takeaways from the conference call today on Indeed Wrestling. We will reach out to have him on again to break all this stuff down. For now, it will be yours truly and Josh Lopez on Hangin on the Moon tonight and back with Chris Walder on the podcast tomorrow.

The WWE Stock to no ones shock is down on the day. Nothing like the epic one-day free fall when they announced their TV deal but still down trading at 12.50 (down 5.8%) on the day at the time this article was published. It opened the day at 13.03 and dipped as low as 12.07 on the day.

It is not as if this was not expected with WWE adding advertising to the Network it was a clear indicator this number was not going to be good and it wasn’t