Vince McMahon’s latest project is the WWE Network, a channel dedicated to anything and everything pro wrestling that will be to the WWE what the NFL Network is to the NFL.
The WWE’s new channel is being viewed as a huge risk for the WWE, with some skeptics saying that the company could be in financial jeopardy if the network fails and others saying that the WWE Network could be just the latest success for the WWE machine.
Of course, that depends on a number of different factors, and thanks to an article released by the Sports Business Daily Journal yesterday, we now have a better idea of what to expect from the WWE Network.
SEScoops.com has hit the high points of the article—including when the network will launch and how many homes it will be available to—but there’s one thing in particular I thought we should focus on:
The article states that “most, if not all” of WWE’s annual 13 pay-per-view events would migrate to the WWE Network. Early surveys by WWE indicated that the “Big 4″ traditional shows (WrestleMania, SummerSlam, Survivor Series & the Royal Rumble) would air exclusively on the Network. Later, another survey indicated WWE had changed their mind on that plan and would have the “Big 4″ remain on pay-per-view – with the other “off-brand” shows airing on the Network.
Wow. This is a potentially game-changing move by the WWE.
With plummeting pay-per-view buyrates—for example, Vengeance being the second-worst PPV in terms of buys in WWE history—it’s pretty clear that the WWE needs to change its PPV philosophy. But moving all of them to the WWE Network would be an incredibly bold move.
I’m not sure I’m in favor of it, though.
Pay-per-views bring in a nice chunk of change for the WWE, and moving them to the WWE Network would both eliminate the revenue made from PPV shows and alienate the fans who don’t have access to the WWE Network in their area. Therefore, I’m personally a fan of the concept of holding the “Big Four” shows on pay-per-view and moving the others to the WWE Network.
It’s sort of a “best of both worlds” move, and it would mean that fans are more likely to shell out $50 for PPVs if they’re only going to occur four times a year.
That being said, the WWE can’t jack up the monthly price for the WWE Network and still expect fans to purchase it. Keep it at a reasonable price, keep big shows like WrestleMania on pay-per-view and you could have a nice little formula here.
But I will definitely be shocked if company officials make the boldest move they’ve made in quite some time and basically eliminate pay-per-views altogether.