WWE Network subscriptions have certainly not been what Vince McMahon wanted — a fact made apparent by the seven percent reduction of staff and the underachieving numbers (700,000 of the 1 million needed by the end of year one).
However, it’s still a revolutionary idea with a bright future, provided the company has the patience to let it grow and add some stellar programming.
As great of a value as $9.99 per month is for every WWE pay-per-view, that doesn’t appear to be getting WWE Network where the company wants it to be.
The old school wrestling archive isn’t doing the trick either. And don’t even get us started on Legends House!
However, there is one idea that occurred to me that could make all the difference.
In essence, WWE Network could become to professional wrestling what Amazon is to publishing.
While publishers don’t exactly like Amazon, they dare not refuse to sell their books there because Amazon is the number one bookseller in the world.
Furthermore, Amazon produces its own content through several publishing arms that compete directly with the Big 5 Publishers out of New York, and they’ve made it super-easy for those outside of the industry to self-publish.
To pull off something similar, Vince McMahon would have to get over his pride and realize his company was never better than when it had competition as in the form of WCW.
After McMahon bought the brand in 2001 and closed its doors, his was the only game in town and the product started to suffer, to a point that it’s never truly recovered.
At present, TNA and ROH have some of the greatest up-and-coming talents in professional wrestling. Unfortunately, they’re unable to reach the next level because of resources and exposure — two things the WWE Network could provide.
Right now, I’m afraid WWE is getting too spread thin by injuries to key stars, rolling out a revolutionary a la carte cable channel, and trying to build original programming aside from the special events (PPVs) and weekly TV shows.
The powers that be should focus less on creating content outside of wrestling and more on rebuilding the industry it leads. Why? Because, just grabbing numbers here, 90 percent of $1 billion is better than 100 percent of $500 million.
In other words, the company could grow more by giving up some of its market share to promotions that could use a boost. WWE Network would be a great tool for doing that.
While a partnership with ROH may be more of a long-shot at present, WWE is definitely in a good position to arrange something tomorrow with TNA, since Spike TV decided to drop the company’s only TV show from the network in July.
Some may think of TNA as a wrestling promotion that could be bought by WWE for a song since their bargaining power is way down, but that would be a mistake.
Negotiating a television contract with TNA owner Dixie Carter would bring in a different type of wrestling fan, foster the competitive environment that helps WWE thrive, and even work out a mutually beneficial revenue sharing model for both companies.
For it to be a success, the McMahons would need to sit back and allow TNA to do its thing, offering a broadcast-only partnership. If it came across like TNA was just WWE Lite, it could never work.
Same thing with ROH.
So how does it happen?
WWE Network could offer a premium package similar to what they’re currently doing for the $19.99 month-to-month option. For $12 or $20 per month — WWE would have to do the math — they could allow hardcore wrestling fans an upgrade that would allow them to view all ROH/TNA/insert Indy promotion here shows in addition to the programs the network currently offers.
If that isn’t possible, they could work something out through advertising. Or they could agree to broadcast weekly programming while allowing the promotions to handle their PPVs separately.
There are a number of ways that it could be done, but what do you guys think?
Would you like to see WWE Network get out of its comfort zone and extend an opportunity to the TNA and ROH promotions of the world? Share your thoughts in our comments section.