This past Thursday during their second quarter conference call WWE revealed that they have 700,000 subscribers to the Network (in the US and internationally through VPN services). In addition to this, WWE announced their international rollouts to 170 countries worldwide which originally wasn’t supposed to happen until the end of the year has been moved up to August 12. Why? The answer is quite simple. They are not happy with the adoption in the US and have to pull from international markets to get their numbers up. Originally when they launched internationally, they projected 3 million people would be on board with WWE. But I doubt if they even get 1.5 million in reality

If you weren’t sure how desperate WWE was to get subscribers to renew their six month commitment to The Network or getting new people to sign up, all you had to do was listen to how many times the price of $9.99 was said every five minutes. Incessantly, the announcers mentioned the thrifty price tag of their over-the-top offering almost saying to the audience, “Come on idiots, why can’t you see what a good deal this is?”

But here’s the real problem that WWE has it has to serve both its television partners and its network interests. Look at last night’s Raw, you have really good action, a Last Man Standing Match, a contract signing, Beat the Clock Challenge ,some shenanigans all in three hours two weeks before everyone should want to watch your pay-per-view. Most people don’t feel compelled to watch any other programming besides Monday Night Raw. WWE has failed to make the program compelling enough what fans want more and are not satiated by the three-hour extravaganza.

Since WWE used their $9.99 price like a all-you-can-eat buffet in Vegas would, I’m going to use this explain my point. Imagine you own an all-you-can-eat buffet and it’s cheap, the food isn’t what it once was , but it’s decent enough. However you still own a Subway franchise next door. Because the first business exists. Second business suffers. WWE has to serve two masters, they have to make Raw still viable on USA while pushing their over-the-top initiative. In my opinion, WWE Network to be the punctuation at the end of the sentence. Raw should lead into some angle on the WWE Network for some must see thing on the service and not a two-year-old match between John Cena and Brock Lesnar. The company really needs to rethink their strategies when it comes to pushing their business leader going forward. Sure, they talk about the price. No mention of devices, or how to set it up. At least they did mention the content on the WWE Network this time, which is a plus, but they are failing to grasp the bigger picture. You can have all the pricing structures you want but people want convenience.

I guess what I’m saying is if WWE wants the network to succeed they might just need to do what they did with Rogers in Canada and partner with a TV provider like Comcast, Charter, or Time Warner and offer as a pay TV service instead. Sure, over-the-top the future, but as long as you have the cable overlords to worry about. I don’t think the business will grow as much as they wanted to even internationally. Technological adoption of new new devices and formats will happen eventually, however, it usually doesn’t happen until people feel it’s needed. All you have to do is look at the digital TV conversion here in the US and see that trend.

In closing, do I think WWE Network is a good deal, sure. But I’m not the one you need to sell on the idea. If the company wants to make this to work, they have to use creativity, clarity and content to make WWE Network a must buy for every fan in The Universe. Don’t treat it like it’s Netflix or HBO Go. Make it something “over-the-top” where you go above and beyond were the loyal fans and give them something really special. My suggestion air some of the SummerSlam panels on The Network.

Hopefully, WWE will get their act together and understand the true power they can have as long as you put the fans first. Give them experience that is must-see and they will find it. If you build it they will come. But you have to lay the groundwork for something special first. Not just an afterthought.

About The Author

Dan is host of Shooting from the Hip which you can hear every Sunday at 8pm EST, 7pm CST right here on