Most wrestling fans are probably not going to like this article. I might be wrong about that, but I'm going to be honest and up front with you.
If you're hoping that the WWE Network provides 24-hour, uninterrupted steams of professional wrestling and professional wrestling-related content, either current or archived, you are really not going to like this article.
I'm a very pragmatic individual. A realist, if you would.
And I understand that a niche network surrounding professional wrestling is probably going to fail.
And I even think the WWE understands that this is going to be hard to pull off, which is why they've waited so long to do it, when the time to strike on something like this was actually 10 years ago, when wrestling was on fire.
WWE has a contract to honor with the USA Network and Syfy, and so Smackdown and Raw won't even be airing on this network. It will, in fact, be a network that features decades-old matches from WCW, mingled in with C-rate shows like NXT and Superstars, and will probably feature movies like "The Marine," "Knucklehead" and "The Chaperone."
I asked the general public (the ones who will be required to watch this network by the millions in order to make it work) and they told me they were really excited to see John Cena in "The Marine." I thought they were telling the truth, until I let down my guard and they beat me with pipes.
Creating a successful network that generates millions of viewers (many more than the 4 million who watch Raw and Smackdown every week) is a nearly impossible undertaking.
For an example of how difficult it is, let's look at Oprah Winfrey, who, through her "Oprah" talk show, was able to forge a billion-dollar empire even larger than the WWE. (Her own personal worth is nearly 2.7 billion, while the WWE's assets are slightly below $400 million. And that's not Oprah's companies, that's just what Oprah has in the bank.)
Oprah's talk show, which is the highest rated daytime talk show of all time, has vacillated between 25 million to 42 million viewers in the US per week. (To the WWE's 3 million-4 million viewers) and that's not even including the 149 other countries she aired in.
She took this success to mean she could start her own network, called OWN.
When she did that, her overall viewership was only 505,000 people in the US to start. It then dropped down in the matter of a month, to 135,000 viewers. She's since gone through two CEO's before taking it over herself and the network plans to do "Major overhauls."
That sucker is going down like the Titanic, folks and folkettes.
And this is from someone whose empire was far larger than the WWE with 10 times the viewership.
Those major overhauls are the same overhauls that networks like Spike, Syfy, MyNetworkTV, etc... all undergo.
They come out as niche channels, recognize there isn't a big enough of a niche, and start to include other types of entertainment to survive.
And if Spike TV, a "men's" channel, has to do it, what choice will the WWE have? I think "Man" is a bigger segment of the populace than "Wrestling Fan."
Add to this the fact that anything that Vince does outside of producing actual professional wrestling shows, generally bombs worse than the Enola Gay, (XFL, WBF, WWE Films, etc...) I don't have faith in him to work about a business miracle here.
And so, I would like to present a few ideas the WWE can utilize to make their new network a success.
And of course, because I am the president and CEO of CBS (No, I'm not), they will all be fantastic ideas.