Variety's exclusive report on WWE's big plans to cash in on its upcoming TV rights contracts includes several major breaks in the company's future broadcast plans. One of the biggest items in the report is that WrestleMania and SummerSlam are being withheld from TV rights talks because they are being used as major selling points to market the new subscription-based WWE Network.
WWE’s pay-per-views, including annual juggernauts “WrestleMania” and “SummerSlam” won’t be part of the negotiations, since those will air on the company’s new subscription-based WWE Network, which will also include original series and access to the company’s VOD library. Launch plans for the channel, which WWE sees as its own NFL Network, have yet to be revealed. However, WWE maintains that it could break even on the venture if it can sign up 800,000 to 1 million subscribers willing to pay around $10 to $14 per month.
There have been many rumors circulating for years regarding plans for the WWE Network. This is the first definitive report from a reputable news organization to state that WrestleMania and SummerSlam would be rolled into the plan. The format of the network is not yet clear: Will it be through cable providers or online similar to Hulu or NetFlix?
As an annual Big Four PPV buyer (WrestleMania, SummerSlam, Survivor Series and the Royal Rumble), this is major news. WWE runs up its prices on WrestleMania and SummerSlam to generate increased revenue.
The prospect of being able to get these shows, in addition to all of the other original content and video library, for a reasonable price make this a must-buy package for me, as it probably is for many of long-time WWE fans.
WWE is likely making this shift because of the continued decline of the PPV industry. Aside from major players, such as UFC and marquee boxing events, PPV has been on the decline for a decade. WWE has seen slides in its monthly PPV buys for most shows during this time. WrestleMania is the only exception. By pushing consumers to lock in for a monthly basis, they can generate revenue throughout the year in small bits instead of reliance on the big monthly purchases.