WWE Network Free? Why Vince McMahon Should Make A PPV Free Trial

WWE Network Has Subscribers, But Wall Street Is Worried

Should the WWE Network free trial be extended to include a PPV event in 2014?

In a related report by The Inquisitr, prior to WWE Extreme Rules 2014 the WWE Network stock price was still holding at a little over $20, but now investors have driven the price down to $17.26 as of the end of the week.

During WrestleMania 30 many fans were trying to find a way to get a good free stream of the big show, but by time the next PPV rolled around most people realized it would not be that easy. Vince McMahon and the rest of the WWE management have been offering a free trial in order to help their numbers, but so far they’re several hundred thousand subscribes short of their goal. While the free signup promotion may lure some people in, it is possible that by advertising a truly free WWE Network trial as a loss leader they may recoup the losses fairly quickly?

In 2013, WWE PPV events such as Extreme Rules, Payback or Money in the Bank averaged about 138,000 North American buys. This is far short of the numbers generated by WrestleMania 30, which generated over one million viewers overall if you include both PPV buys and WWE Network subscribers. So the question is whether it’s worth the business risk to give away one of those events for free.

The WWE Network requires a six-month commitment at $9.99 per month, but essentially one WWE PPV is worth $10 per subscriber. That adds up to a $1.38 million loss, not including network streaming costs. Even SummerSlam from last year only had 185,000 North American PPV buys, which would cost them $1.85 million if it were free for the same amount.

There’s multiple ways this loss could be partially negated. One way is to build in ads into the free trial version of the WWE Network apps. But the WWE management could take a lesson from Hulu Plus, which is currently trying to grow by giving free membership time to people who convince their friends to sign up. Thus, even if the current subscribers get a month free, the cost of having a month or two free would be quickly negated if it’s assumed everyone signing up still has to pay for the remaining four or five months.

The question is whether or not they’d stay after the six months are up, which will probably be answered by current subscribers when the current six months are up. The biggest complaint most fans have so far is that Monday Night RAW and Smackdown are not re-broadcasted after the live event is over. In fact, you can get to the older shows faster on Hulu Plus than the WWE Network at this time. If the WWE were to renegotiate their re-broadcast rights for RAW and Smackdown this might change the minds of many fans.

Whether or not it’s free for a PPV event, some WWE fans are worried that WWE Network glitches from the streaming app will cause them more pain than its worth. Let’s put it this way, the load on the system was probably far greater during WrestleMania 30 and yet we only saw concessional dips into lower resolutions. While some people did complain about losing connections completely, we only witnessed an odd bug where the video would essentially rewind about five seconds, making us wonder if we were having deja vu or if the wrestlers just repeated themselves. Otherwise, we found the number of WWE Network errors acceptable compared to other popular platforms like Hulu Plus and Netflix.

Would you sign up for the WWE Network free trial if it offered a PPV event as part of the package?