Wouldn't you know it, the great Vince McMahon is at it again expanding the WWE even further by announcing the debut of its very own network, “The WWE Network”. The network is set to launch February 24th and will include thousands of hours of wrestling footage on demand. Monthly PPV’s, original programs, reality shows, documentaries, classic matches from the past and much more will also be packed into this network. The channel can officially be purchased on its launch date through laptops, tablets (iPad), phones (android, Iphone) and video gaming consoles (PS3, PS4 and xbo360). Additionally, all programming will be available in high definition.
The network is anticipated to be a dream come true for a die hard wrestling fans, loads of WWE content on demand 24/7 is most certainly a revolutionary idea and one which will truly enthuse wrestling fans. Though one can raise the question, would a casual WWE fan purchase this network? Or will it appeal only to the hardcore WWE fan base. This article will examine the pros and cons of launching the WWE network, how it can potentially benefit the WWE, but also how it could hurt the company in the long run.
Unfortunately for the WWE, there are two main noticeable flaws in the network; these flaws are regarded as major cons.
Con #1: Not an Actual TV Network
Being a wrestling fan myself, my first big disappointment about this network is that it is not yet an actual network that can be purchased through standard cable providers. Having the ability to watch this channel on a big screen with a group of friends was the first thought that ran through my mind when this network was announced, but unfortunately for now this is not an option. The fact that this network can only be downloaded on a laptop, tablet, phone or gaming console hurts its value and misses the actual point of it being a valid network.
Although it's reasonable to argue that getting the network through Playstation 3, 4 or Xbox 360 (and later on Xbox One) still gives fans the possibility of watching it on the big screen, not having the ability to obtain it through a cable provider means that subscribers must have an internet connection in order to use the service. Although in 2014 this is not regarded as a major inconvenience for most people, it probably won't take too long for Vince McMahon to expand this network further and get his own cable network deal. While it is evident that certain tweaks can make watching this network on TV a possibility for WWE fans, at the end of the day, this flaw remains potentially problematic for the network.
CON #2: Loss of PPV Revenue
Many people find it absolutely appalling that with a six month plan at 9.99$ per month, a subscriber can watch a month’s worth of PPV’s for no additional costs. One of these people is UFC President, Dana White calling it “ridiculous”. The UFC president claims the WWE will instantly lose a large percentage of the money they generate from PPV’s and that in the long run, according to White it will “devaluate the company” and “limit the company’s exposure”. When asking White if he would ever consider taking this direction with the UFC's new Fight Pass, he responded by saying “It won’t work for us”. Especially pointing to the fact that most of the UFC's revenue comes from PPV sales itself.
Dana White’s argument is obviously a valid concern for the WWE and a major con from a business stand point. Though, wrestling fans will argue that subscriptions will make up for this, and as White pointed out, Vince McMahon has always been “an innovator” and the WWE may still be able to find ways to profit from this, despite slashed PPV prices. It will be interesting to see from a business standpoint how PPV sales will be affected from this Networks’ introduction and if it will hurt the WWE in the long run.
Lets face it, the true wrestling fan won’t care about the factors listed above. He instead will look at the main pros that this network will deliver, which are:
PRO #1: Something For the Old and New Wrestling Fan
One of the coolest features form this new WWE Network is the fact that it is for both the old, and the new wrestling fans. The Network is packed with more than a thousand hours of classic matches, allowing the old school wrestling fan to re-live these tremendous moments and the new fan to access current new independent WWE shows and much more up-to-date content. The network pleases both types of fans and certainly doesn’t disappoint with its hours and hours of wrestling content on demand. On McMahon's part, this is a big incentive that will inevitably boost subscriptions and hopefully compensate for PPV losses.
PRO #2: PPV Prices
Even though the dramatically slashed prices of PPVs can be perceived as a con to the WWE from a business standpoint, it is certainly not the case from a wrestling fans’ standpoint. With a 6-month commitment to the network at 9.99$ per month, wrestling fans will receive monthly PPV’s including Wrestlemania, a program which generally costs between 30$ to 70$ on PPV. This deal is an absolute steal for a wrestling fan that pays minimum 30$ dollars per month on wrestling PPVs. For 9.99$ a month, you can get the monthly PPV with the additional thousands of hours of bonus wrestling features. This is certainly a ridiculous deal for wrestling fanatics when we look at money saved and the amount of content fans can get with the network. Again, McMahon is aiming for massive amounts of people to buy in to the huge savings, potentially substantially increasing the WWE's fanbase in the process.
PRO #3: ON-DEMAND ACCESS
On demand access gives us the possibility to watch WWE content wherever and whenever we want at any given time. One of my first thoughts when reading up on the network was, can I watch Shawn Michaels super kick someone’s head off at any moment? The answer, yes, yes I can. This on-demand feature makes it so easy for wrestling fans to watch what they want, whenever they want without being restrained to what is shown on TV. The on-demand feature makes it accessible for the user to watch on their own time, pleasing all types of wrestling fans in the process. It makes the network like a Netflix’s for WWE fanatics which is certainly sweet and adds a lot to the viewers’ experience.
Despite its few cons, which only really concern the WWE's ability to sustain profitability in the long run, the Network is set to launch February 24th 2014 in the United States. It will be an absolute steal for all wrestling fans around the world. Vince McMahon has yet again found a way to expand his massive empire. If it works, millions of fans will be glued to their couches for a long, long time. Kudos Vince!