Ever since the launch of WWE Network was announced, one of the topics of discussion has been that early subscribers would not only get WrestleMania but also SummerSlam, as the earliest subscriptions end a couple weeks after that show.
Between that and the influx of subscribers the week before WrestleMania, the September/October pay-per-views and special events become a lot more important in retaining subscribers.
In light of that, it's been reported in the new issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t WrestlingInc.com) that Night of Champions on September 21st in Nashville will be a loaded show featuring Brock Lesnar in one of the top matches. This explains why Lesnar, who works a specified number of limited dates, wasn't on the Extreme Rules card after main eventing that show in 2012 and 2013.
This is likely to be a two-match feud for Lesnar coming off SummerSlam. It will be interesting to see how much of a difference-maker he is coming off of being rebuilt by winning his last three matches in a row, culminating in his ending The Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania 30.
He lost a bit of his mystique in his loss to Triple H at WrestleMania 29 but had a match-of-the-year-caliber bout with CM Punk at SummerSlam last year where he looked like an absolute killer. And, well, he ended The Streak.
How should WWE address the alignment of the PPV calendar and WWE network subscriptions?
Restructuring the calendar of PPVs makes sense, but I'm just not sure how you do it.
This is definitely a good start. There aren't a lot of attractions WWE has that can make Night of Champions bigger, so booking a rematch or some other continuation of Lesnar's SummerSlam match is the best play WWE can make.
The obvious opponents for him are Cesaro (which I'd hold off until WrestleMania) and Daniel Bryan (better fit for SummerSlam), both of which would be incredible matches. I'm not sure either rivalry would benefit from a rematch, though.
There have been a couple of other developments with WWE Network this week that appear to show where decision-makers' heads are at. Earlier this week, they sent out a survey to ask the people who bought WrestleMania on traditional pay-per-view why they didn't subscribe to WWE Network. The options were:
- Have a limited budget and chose to spend my money elsewhere
- Don't have fast enough broadband
- Don't know how to set up WWE Network on my TV
- Have data limit and want to avoid overage charges
- It would be too complicated
Essentially, it's a matter of seeing who didn't pick the options related to issues with their broadband Internet service providers.
"Limited budget" appears to be kind of a gotcha answer: Anyone who picks that clearly has not paid any attention to how much WWE Network costs, since the six-month commitment is, in totality, the same as the standard definition price of WrestleMania on PPV. Similarly, "don't know how to set it up" and "it would be too complicated" are also gauges of how much WWE needs to educate the fanbase if someone picks them.
You get the same idea from the video WWE started airing recently in which Kofi Kingston explains how to watch WWE Network on your television. On that note, WWE is now selling Roku's HDMI stick and various set-top boxes on WWE Shop. You get a Roku at retail price along with a WWE network setup guide (WWE Network service not included in the price) and can add a HDMI cable to the boxes for $10 more.
At $50 with no need for even an HDMI cable, the Roku Streaming Stick is easily the lowest-priced option WWE can push to fans without a game console or other connected devices. If they push the value proposition of getting the network versus getting every PPV on its own, $50 isn't much. I'm very curious to see if they start selling these at live events and if they'll make any kind of difference.
I've been pushing this type of marketing for months, so it's nice to see WWE make these moves.