WWE Network Nosedives In Stocks Despite Strong Subscriber Numbers

Since launching on February 24, the WWE Network has seen more than 667,000 people sign up for it, and that puts the streaming service well on its way to reaching its year-end goal of 1 million subscribers. But while that number has pleased WWE CEO Vince McMahon, Wall Street has had a different reaction.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the stocks for the WWE Network took a 23 percent hit, and analysts believe it could be due to a variety of expectations for the service and uncertain trading.

Many thought the WWE Network would see more subscribers by now, including Mike Hickey, who is an analyst for The Benchmark Company. His original prediction was 800,000, but he adjusted it to be anywhere between 500,000 and 800,000.

“I try to give a sense of consensus and I realized my original forecast was a little aggressive,” Hickey said.

Subscribers to the WWE Network pay $9.99/month and are required to make a six-month commitment to the service. Wrestling fans are able to watch original programming with the WWE Network, and they also have access to on-demand service, and a library of archive matches and events.

Fans were even given the opportunity to watch this past Sunday’s Wrestlemania 30 on the WWE Network, an event that marked the end of The Undertaker’s 21-win streak. But a recent report from The Inquisitr stated that the service did seem like it had some bugs. One instance had a video of Steve Austin unexpectedly repeat itself, and another had the resolution take a dip below 720p, once more people started to watch.

With the big event over, it may be harder for the WWE to draw more subscribers to its new service, and it’s uncertain how many of the more than 667,000 people will stay past their six-month commitment. But Hickey is estimating the WWE will see more subscribers by year’s end, and is predicting the company will get 1.2 million, which is a little more than its goal. Hickey also predicts that through 2015, 1.5-1.6 million will have subscribed to the network.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the WWE had tried to go for a premium channel method, a la HBO, as well as a traditional cable method, before settling with the online-only WWE Network. McMahon has faith in the online method and said that the sport’s fans are “early adopters of new technology.”

Kim Opiatowski, an analyst for The Vertical Group, told USA Today that the WWE Network’s subscription numbers are “very solid and healthy.”

“The stock may have gotten a little ahead of itself, and a lot of momentum names have been fading,” Opiatowski said. “And people may have also taken money off the table.”

But the channels that carry WWE programming fear that fans will ditch cable and satellite providers and sign up for the WWE Network – which would decrease the amount of people who purchase events like Wrestlemania via the pay-per-view method. Some networks even said they would not air Wrestlemania 30, but none of them went through with that threat, according to a WWE spokesman.