The WWE Network is a subscription-based 24/7 video streaming system that was launched on February 24th, 2014 by WWE Inc.
The network offers fans access to all WWE weekly programming including Monday Night Raw, Friday Night SmackDown, Main Event, and NXT. Along with these shows a subscriber will be given all twelve WWE Pay-Per-View events. All this for the low low price of … $9.99 (They have made that abundantly clear).
Aside from its flagships shows, the network also provides a large dose of nostalgia making available past WWE, WCW, and ECW Pay-Per-Views as well as old episodes of Monday Night Raw and Monday Nitro. Original programming includes countdown and reality shows as well as featured documentary-style and behind-the-scenes type footage.
The problem now facing WWE is that the network is not living up to its expectations and with so much time and money invested they are left scrambling around and trying to figure how they could increase subscription numbers. The network is currently being offered for free all throughout the month of November – including the Survivor Series Pay-Per-View which is one the company’s top-four events. It is never a good sign when you are giving away something you are supposed to be selling.
When the network was first set to launch earlier this year, WWE pulled out all the stars they could in order to help promote their latest endeavor. Hulk Hogan made a much-appreciated return to WWE and was instrumental in pushing the network on the fans. It's always nice to see Hogan on WWE TV but his influence on popular culture is not what it was once and nobody was going to subscribe because Hulkster told them to, brother.
What does the future hold for the WWE Network? Your guess is as good as mine. In fact, what does the future hold for the wrestling industry as a whole? The network was supposed to revitalize the business once again but all it has done is sour it even more.
There are many reasons why the network isn't working out – probably many backstage reasons we will never know about – but there are some in plain sight. These are the top 10 reasons why the WWE Network is failing:
9 Forced Desperation
I understand how selling anything requires a certain level of repetition. Your sales pitch is important and sometimes, when it doesn't seem to be working, you may need to lower your standards or resort to some desperate ploy. The WWE has taken their sales pitch to a whole new level of desperation. The network is forced upon the public week in and week out and is mentioned on a continuous loop throughout all its programming. The price of the network (which is $9.99, in case you didn't know) has been repeatedly incorporated into promos and segment. The desperation that comes across when trying to sell the network leads one to believe that the network can't be all that great to begin with if the WWE feel they need to constantly forced it down the throats of of its viewers.
8 Current Product is Poor
The current product being produced by the WWE is far away, and perhaps too far gone, from the product of its glory days. There is nothing terribly exciting going on right now that makes people feel that they need to watch WWE. There was a time when it felt like if you missed one week of Raw, you would be missing something monumental. These days, after missing a week or two or three, it feels as though you're picking back up where you left off anyway. There are no longer massive stars on your television each Monday night. There is one at the show: John Cena. There is another one sitting at home: Brock Lesnar. Then there are the rest: the perpetual mid-card WWE talent. Look, it doesn't matter how low the cost is ($9.99 by the way), people will not pay for a poor product and when they do feel like watching some wrestling, they will switch to the USA Network and enjoy a few hours on a different bill.
7 Pay-Per-View Quality
The most appealing aspect of the WWE Network is that a subscriber would receive all of WWE's monthly Pay-Per-Views, including WrestleMania. That alone may be the sole reason people have signed up for the network and that would be reason enough to subscribe... if the Pay-Per-View events still felt like Pay-Per-View events. The Pay-Per-View is supposed to feel like a big deal or an epic conclusion, but they just feel like something you could watch on Raw. The WWE World Heavyweight Championship is not scheduled to be defended again until the 2015 Royal Rumble. The latest Hell in a Cell event featured a recycled match between John Cena and Randy Orton as the co-main event, along with a Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins match – two guys who are awesome to watch and having them settle their score inside of the cell made sense, but the main event of any Pay-Per-View should involve the champion.
6 Overestimated Love
The WWE may have to take a step back and re-evaluate its relationship with the fans. Sure, for a lot of people when they first met WWE, the attraction was strong and the love grew quickly. Everything was new and exciting and it really felt like this feeling would last forever. But, the WWE has gotten a little older, a little more stubborn, don't listen to the fans as much, and it's beginning to take its toll on the relationship. The WWE started caring more about itself than the people who love it and stood by it for all those years. Yes, there was a time when the fans would jump on board with any idea the WWE might have had but the love has dwindled and the fans just can't get behind every crazy idea the WWE has anymore. The love is still there, its just not as strong. The WWE better keep an eye on its fans, especially with that younger UFC promotion walking around the neighborhood.
5 Fewer Viewers as a Whole
There is no denying that interest in professional wrestling as a whole has decreased significantly over the years. Gone are the days of the territories and competitive promotions. There are many people out there who were once spellbound by the spectacle of professional wrestling who simply do not watch anymore. When WCW and ECW went out of business, not everybody turned over and tuned in to WWE – a lot of fans just gave up wrestling all together. Nowadays, if you don't like WWE, what else are you going to watch? TNA? Come on, that stuff is worse than WWE – if you're going to be a wrestling junkie at least use the top quality stuff. What about ROH? While the promotion does have its redeeming qualities, it will never reach any major heights. The end result is that fewer people are watching wrestling and it looks like the WWE overestimated how many people are still out there watching and wanting more of this stuff.
4 Attention Deficit Generation
If the older generations are tuning out, then why not get the younger generations to tune in to pro wrestling? Well, because this is the era of the apathetic youth who suffer from sporadic bouts of amnesia – unable to recall anything they have seen away from their touchscreens. The WWE has tried to get with the times by launching its own mobile apps, but it still hasn't improved anything. Perhaps they need someone under the age of forty pitching ideas in those board rooms – someone to make the WWE seem a little more cool. The new kids of the modern times could care less about the WWE Network – why would they want to watch something that lasts longer than six seconds? You can't blame the WWE for this one, it's just the way of the world and the attention deficit generation.
3 The Internet
The programming offered on the WWE Network is solid. Sometimes you may want to take a trip back in time and watch Stone Cold and The Rock tear each other apart. But here's the thing; you don't need the WWE Network for that. You can find everything you're looking for that is wrestling-related somewhere on the internet. I already said it once in this article but once again, the low cost ($9.99 for those wondering) doesn't matter when the internet is readily available and stocked with all the content that you seek, because sometimes when the real world becomes too real, you need to take a break in a land of make-believe and watch some old-fashioned rasslin.'
2 Too Many Hours
I know the stigma associated with wrestling fans; basement losers with no lives who hopelessly watch and cheer on men in tights fighting over pre-determined circumstance. Well, believe it or not, people who watch wrestling also has very active lives. There are surely some who fit that description but who are you to judge anybody? After all, you're reading a wrestling-based article. But, back to my point: how many hours of wrestling could one person watch? The WWE Network is available 24/7, you can watch it all damn day if you should choose. Look, if you watch Raw and SmackDown, that's already five hours of wrestling each week – eight if there was a Pay-Per-View and you decided to watch it – that's a day's work worth of wrestling. Anybody with a social life doesn't need the WWE Network interfering.
1 Hardcore Fans vs. Casual Fans
In entry #6 on this list, I mentioned how some fans have stopped watching wrestling all together. I also mentioned in #5 how younger generations just care enough to watch. So, what kind of fans exist out there? The fanbase can be divided into two divisions: hardcore fans and casual fans. The former being who the WWE relies on for revenue and probably consists of the bulk of network subscribers. The latter being who the network pitch is being directed. The casual fan is not tuning in to WWE on a regular basis – a lot of fans spend months away from the product – maybe only returning to it during WrestleMania season. The numbers for the WWE Network are low because there are not as many hardcore fans to ogle over its programming.
1. The Ego of Vince McMahon
Vince McMahon is regarded by many as a wrestling innovator, which means when the WWE Network was set to launch McMahon was going to revolutionize the business once again, right? Wrong. The network was supposed to be ahead of the times, but its really just part of the times with no real significant impact on popular culture. However, McMahon would never admit to such things. The ego of Vince McMahon is going to keep the WWE Network running until it can't run no more and, even then, it will be placed in a wheelchair and pushed along by one of his stooges. Vince McMahon hates to admit defeat or failure, so I'm sure somewhere in his head and rationale the network is a roaring success. Keep in mind, this is the same man who thought he could operate a professional football league.