WCW vs. WWE was not just a battle between two companies seeing who had the best wrestlers. In thinking about it from a larger perspective, it was one huge media outlet using technology, in that case cable television, to take on an established brand, with an established fan base and time slot for supremacy. It was as much The USA Network vs TNT, as much as it was Austin vs Hogan.
After WCW’s collapse, TNA Wrestling assumed some of the space WCW did in being the major league alternative to WWE, but they never quite got there and as of this writing the future of that company looks bleak. But for the first time since WCW, the gap may be directly closed on WWE’s reach to their audience.
With the announcement of FloSports starting a wrestling streaming company, that will initially partner with WWN Live, which includes promotions like Shine, Shimmer, EVOLVE, Dragon Gate USA, and more, they will directly compete for the niche audience of the hardcore wrestling fan. The wrestling division will be called FloSlam and it will be available on Apple TV and Roku devices. Now all of those WWE surveys about indy promotions are making sense, right?
The key to FloSlam’s success will be almost forming a super team of promotions that can share talent and headline across numerous promotions. While off to a good start with the WWN Live family, imagine if they were able to partner with Sinclair Broadcasting, and Ring Of Honor, and through that relationship, reach out to wrestlers from New Japan, and although Lucha Underground doesn’t run like a typical promotion, what is stopping AAA and CMLL from linking up to get a piece of that pie? FloSlam investing over $21 million into this service makes me think they can afford to pay for top talent. Not to mention when the day comes, what if a Daniel Bryan decided to leave WWE and return the indies? I’m confident fans will plunk down cash to watch him.
With the price point being $20.00 a month or $150 dollars a year, which is more expensive than the WWE Network, they’ll have to start justifying it by presenting the best of the best in non-WWE entertainment.
A thing to mention about the rise of FloSports is WWE was an early investor in their company, but will have no say in the day to day running of the company, therefore making them direct competition.
The failings of iPPV will no longer be a barrier to the audience in trying to consume this product, as FloSlam will be signing groups up by the ton, and by proxy investing in them.
Throughout history in wrestling, the most competition and innovation has come when technology has advanced. WWE may have a new opponent that is finally competing on an even playing ground. Lets hope this battle gets good.