The WWE Network launched with the intention of keeping exclusively televised programming exactly that: exclusive.
However, this exclusivity has temporarily been waived, after Wednesday evening’s showing of WWE Main Event aired on both the WWE Network and in its usual slot on ION television. According to F4WOnline (h/t WrestleZone.com), this arrangement could even remain in place right up until WrestleMania XXX.
It marks a bold move from the company, given the colossal revenues that television contracts continue to generate; though that’s probably why they tested the water somewhat with one of their less popular shows, rather than SmackDown or even Monday Night Raw.
Or perhaps they’re even considering making Main Event a Network exclusive, considering that the show’s TV deal expires in less than three weeks. Regardless of the reasoning behind this move, though, there’s arguably an even bigger question to come from this news.
How were the TV ratings affected?
According to WrestlingInc.com, the answer to that question is not very much at all. In terms of viewers, it was reported that Main Event posted an average audience “on the higher end of what it has been doing.”
Sure, it may only be Main Event, but this news could potentially be rather significant.
It’s often been assumed that airing the likes of Raw and SmackDown on the Network would reduce the size of the shows’ television audiences, a logical conclusion to make. Obviously, the WWE would want to avoid such eventualities, given the fact that their 2013 TV deal was estimated to be worth almost $170 million.
But if they can showcase their flagship programs on the WWE Network while maintaining such television audiences—as was the case with Main Event—then that can only be a good thing for the company.
Not only would their TV deals retain their value, the addition of Raw and SmackDown to the WWE Network’s value proposition would make it a far more attractive offer. This would presumably result in even more subscribers and thus even greater revenues than first anticipated.
Of course, the example of Main Event may not translate so perfectly to Raw and SmackDown. The Network airing wasn’t particularly well-publicised, so there’s a chance that fans simply tuned in to ION as they were unaware that it was available elsewhere.
But nonetheless, it’s an early sign that the Network could indeed air television shows live without jeopardising the lucrative TV contracts. It’s an eventuality that few would have predicted, however, it’s perhaps too early to get ahead of ourselves. If Main Event does continue to go live on the Network, though, it’ll be interesting to keep an eye on the ratings and whether or not they remain unharmed.
Of course, I’m as keen as ever to hear your opinions on this.
Was Main Event’s lack of an effect on the ratings a one-off occurrence?
Or is it a sign that it’s perfectly feasible to air programs on both live TV and the WWE Network?
Please feel free to comment below with your thoughts on this matter as well as any of the points that were covered in the article.