Ever since the rumors of WWE launching their own television network starting, the majority of fans have been eagerly looking forward to the day. I’m not in the majority. In fact, since I first heard of the plan, I’ve been firmly against it, for several reasons.
The biggest issue with the WWE Network is the probability that fans are going to have to pay to get the Network. It’s recently been “reported” that WWE is calculating between $7-$12 per month. That may, or may not seem too much depending on what part of the World you reside, or your income, but many fans still aren’t likely to pay the price to get something they can get for free, via streams, YouTube, and other online media. Classic footage is great, but why pay and wait for it to be aired when you can see it immediately online for free? Oh, and less us not forget WWE’s current 24/7 service, WWE OnDemand. OnDemand costs $7.00 per month, I know, because I have it. However, I’m only one out of well less than 50,000 fans (I believe I’ve actually seen that it was under 10,000) who are currently subscribed to the video service. While there’s some good material OnDemand, I rarely find myself watching.
Another issue with this WWE Network is the proposed shows they’re thinking of, and in some cases most likely will, air. I mentioned classic footage being shown, which is great for hardcore fans, and those that care about the past, but sadly it seems many newer fans could care less about the past. Furthermore, newer, mainstream fans, only care to watch RAW and Smackdown, mostly the prior, and the occasional ppv. Out of the hardcore/passionate fans, well for one, WWE has alienated many over the past several years, and secondly, many these are the people who know to look elsewhere for the same material.Then there’s the segment of fans who prefer to just own the dvds of older events. Why bother pay ing $7-$12 a month for only certain matches/events, when you can own whatever, full-length event you want for about $5? Here’s a question, if I provided you a place to watch old footage of let’s say…JCP from the early 1980s, for free, or perhaps an entire vintage WWF event from the ’80s, how many of you would actually take the time to watch?
Speaking of big events, the top selling ppvs are clearly the “Big Four”, Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam, and Survivor Series. WWE might give these ppvs away for free if you have the Network. Well, that’s great for those with the Network, but it’s terrible for the WWE. Fans normally pay $60 (US) for these ppvs; $7-$12 won’t cover those losses. Did I mention that WWE is actually considering having the “Big Four” only be available via The Network? So everyone who doesn’t have the Network, won’t be able to see Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam, or Survivor Series.
Yet another issue for the Network is the re-airing of RAW and Smackdown. This is a lose-lose situation for WWE. Why are fans who buy into this Network, going to wait to watch RAW and Smackdown on a delay, when they can simply watch the shows on USA and SyFy the day they air? If for some chance, though, that some of these fans are ok with doing that, it hurts RAW and Smackdown’s original airing’s ratings. If I were NBC Universal, I’d be pissed off, because lower ratings means less advertising money. Speaking of advertising money, since most people won’t be buying the WWE Network, and considering the nature of the business and WWE cutting out some ppv revenue, it should be interesting to see how they finance this endeavor.
I’ve read that one of the show concepts WWE is really behind, is a recap/highlight/call-in show, similar to ESPN shows. Fans seem to be really looking forward to this idea. I think it’s interesting. There are a couple flaws, though. One, WWE had a call-in show before called Byte This, that used to air every Wednesday night, on wwe.com. It was shut down, one reason being due to fans calling in and asking non-approved questions. The other flaw is that WWE used to have recap shows and still do in some regions of the World. I specifically remember Bottom Line and Experience both airing Sunday mornings. I loved watching those shows, unfortunately, I was in the minority ( yet again). They were taken off the air here in the United States due to poor ratings.
Another proposed show that I’ve seen fans interested in, is a “Big Brother” like show, where Superstars and Divas will be forced to live together. It is an interesting idea, except for the fact that if you think top talent will be on a show like this, you’re an idiot. The only talent who’ll be on this kind of show, are those that can not get on TV, and who don’t sell house show tickets. And don’t even think of WWE actually bringing in former talent, with real problems. Why would WWE want to bring to light the issues their former talent has? That would be some lawsuits and bad media attention waiting to happen. Problem number two….reality tv is scripted, wrestling is even more scripted. Just because they have this similarity, doesn’t mean viewers like both. Take a look at wrestling’s biggest demographic (which is also the most important demographic to advertisers)…18-49 year olds. Now, do you really believe that wrestling fans, age 18-49 years, are too interested in reality television? Alright, let’s say towards the younger side, they are interested, to varying degrees. However, WWE’s demographic age average, is aging, meaning, it’s closer to 49 than 18.
WWE is also considering adding two more wrestling shows (ala RAW/SD). Oh my gosh, so many issues with this, where do I begin? Tell you what, I’m just going to make a list…
1. WWE Creative can barely write for the two shows they have now.
2. The more you have of something, the less value it holds.
3. Will these shows have their own tours? If so, production costs just skyrocketed.
4. With more shows, I’d assume more talent would be added to the roster, which will mean the roster becomes a bigger cluster.
5. Half the fanbase doesn’t even bother watching Smackdown.
6. Any of you remember what happened with ECW, Superstars, and NXT?
On to another idea of WWE’s…..a cooking show! Now, I hate to be sexist, but I don’t imagine many men in the World, especially those who are wrestling fans, are too interested in cooking.
Any attempts of airing non-wrestling shows on the WWE Network are most likely doomed to fail, as well. Wrestling, sadly, has a stench to it, that turns away people who aren’t fans. Many of those who are not wrestling fans, would likely be able to identify what “WWE” is, and thus, will most likely be turned away from a network called “WWE”.” And wrestling fans, want wrestling shows, on a wrestling network. Plus, I’d wager to bet that whatever non-wrestling shows WWE aired would be terrible. Oh gosh, they’ll probably air the WWE Films movies.
With WWE being PG rated, it should also be interesting to see what they do with classic footage, say from the late 1990s, and also what other kind of programming is aired. 2012 is an election year after all.
Don’t forget about WWE’s track record, as well: The WBF, protein shakes, energy drinks, WWF New York, the XFL, WWE Films…
As you can see, I’m not excited about the WWE Network. The idea of a network for just WWE/wrestling sounds great, and the video package for it is excellent. However, there are more flaws to this idea, than there are benefits. Flaws for WWE, and flaws for fans.