The WWE Network premiered February 24th in the United States to a whole lot of fanfare among industry insiders. The over-the-top, subscription service was supposed to change how wrestling fans got their monthly (or daily, or hourly) fix of WWE content by providing hundreds of hours of content for, and chant it with me here, $9.99 per month. The launch coincided with the run-up to WWE’s largest annual event, Wrestlemania, with WM 30 the first pay-per-view event being shown live on the Network.
The WWE Network had a couple of issues going against it from the very start. Chiefly the 6-month commitment required to sign up for the service. Netflix, for example, only requires a 30-day commitment when you sign up for the service. If you’re unhappy you can just cancel at any time. The WWE Network was asking for $9.99 per month, an inexpensive asking price, but a total of just under $60 in commitments to sign up. This definitely turned off many of the savings-saavy WWE fans who just couldn’t justify an expenditure they didn’t even know if they’d like in two months let alone six.
Another big issue, at least that I noticed, was that the WWE’s advertising of the Network was confusing more often than it was clear. For instance, I didn’t hear until sometime in August the comparison between buying one $50 pay-per-view on television versus the $9.99 subscription *including* the pay-per-view each month. I’m sure the WWE didn’t want to ruffle too many feathers with cable/satellite providers but this needed to be a sticking point from the absolute get-go. “Hey, subscribe and save $40 a month” should have come out of Triple H’s mouth far more often than “nine ninety-nine“.
WWE recently announced that they were offering the entire month of November free on the WWE Network to include the annual pay-per-view event, Survivor Series. This is a move that probably should’ve been pulled out in the FIRST month of the Network’s lifespan but here we are. I applaud the move and I do think it will bring a lot of people who are curious about the Network over and keep many of them there once they realize the content that they are receiving.
The WWE also announced in October that they were dropping the six-month commitment requirement and that the services would be provided on a month to month basis which is another move that I think will increase subscribers. I don’t think I would have signed up for Netflix if it had been a 6-month commitment but, after signing up two years ago, I don’t even think about the charge each month. It’s just something that happens now and, good or bad, that’s what the WWE needs to go for with it’s service as well.
Now that there are less-stringent requirements, coupled with exclusive content like matches after Raw, the Network should see an increase in subscriptions over the months to come. The WWE needs to spend more time focusing on what you get instead of what it costs but I think they’re moving in the right direction to make the WWE Network a great product in the future.