February 24th, 2014 saw the launch of the WWE Network. The Network is a subscriber-based internet video streaming service. The concept of the network is to provide fans with all 12 annual WWE pay-per-view events as well as every past WWE, WCW and ECW pay-per-view plus original content. The network seemed like a dream come true to the WWE fans in theory. However, the network has failed to meet expectations due to server issues and low interest in available content. The WWE Network seems doomed for failure along with other WWE ventures such as the XFL and many WWE films.
When the WWE Network finally went live on February 24th, the WWE fans were overjoyed. As thousands of fans flocked to their computers they were immediately facing issues.The site’s servers began to overflow and fail due to the high site traffic. The majority of fans were unable to purchase their subscriptions or even sign up for the one week free-trial offer. Over the next few weeks, the Network continued to face issues with high demand and most fans began to turn away from the product. One might think the WWE Network to be successful if enough fans were interested to overflow the servers in the opening weeks. However, the Network has just over 670,000 subscribers in the U.S. and the content is still unavailable internaitonally. While 670,000 seems like a good figure, the WWE needs to hit the one million mark in order to break even on the venture. WWE reported a net loss of $8 million for the first quarter of 2014 with all signs pointing to the Network.
As a fan of WWE, the idea of having every pay-per-view in the company’s existence sounds like a fantasy come to life. However, the casual WWE fan most likely has no interest in such content. Typically, the casual fan has only heard of certain big matches from past events and can find the content for free via Youtube. Why would said casual fan pay $9.99 a month to view three hour shows that they can catch the best of for no charge? The only content the WWE network offers that would appeal to the casual fan is the weekly programming (such a Superstars and nXt) and the original content. The casual fan is still unlikely to purchase the network for just these programs. Although the idea of being offered all 12 monthly pay-per-views seems appealing, most fans only tune in to one pay-per-view a year, Wrestlemania. The Network offering Wrestlemania as part of its content would appeal to the masses if not for the Network requiting a six month commitment averaging it out to the same cost as Wrestlemania as a pay-per-view.
The formula is not new to WWE. The company offered a similar video library package in 2007 titled “WWE 24/7”. The package only accumulated 115,000 subscribers, totaling revenue of roughly one million dollars. While one million seems like a great profit, the package failed to meet expectations and was scrapped. With the WWE Network being similar, it seems the network is doomed for failure. Most fans chalk it up to WWE having planned the network for so long and having to rush something out to the shareholders. The site is a far cry from what it was originally pitched to the WWE fans as but it is a solid attempt at capturing success. With Over 400,000 subscribers left for WWE to reach its goal for the network and the content still being only available in the U.S. it seems unlikely that the WWE Network will prevail.