WWE business is doing just fine. Over 1.6 million people subscribe to WWE Network, house show attendance is steady, and the big events draw in buttloads of money. Or boatloads. Whichever. That being said, business can always be better. Always. As wrestling fans, we talk a lot about ratings, but that’s far from the only source of the company’s revenue.
You may have noticed that WWE has been pyro-free for a while now. I bet you don’t even miss it. Eliminating the pyro was a decision made as a cost-cutting measure, and it’s going to save WWE a whole bunch of money in the long term. WWE also recently cut back on WWE Network shows like Talking Smack, Unfiltered, Legends With JBL, Edge and Christian’s show, and as far as we can figure, we haven’t ever seen the rest of the Camp WWE episodes that were produced. Now it seems like more cost-cutting will probably be on the way.
Keep in mind that making television shows is very expensive, including making content for WWE Network. The Camp WWE and Breaking Ground episodes alone likely cost a lot of money, and although WWE employs just scads and scads of wrestlers, with probably over 100 in NXT and the Performance Center, and nearly that many on the main roster, you can typically pay a lot of peoples’ annual salaries for what it costs to make an episode of a television show that requires more production than Network stalwarts Table For 3 and Ride Along.
On Tuesday’s Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer reported that more cutbacks are likely on the way, as WWE is attempting to catch up to their profit margin from last year. (Transcript via Wrestling Inc.)
“So last year’s profits were about $30 million. And this year we’re about halfway through and — I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me – but it’s like five or six million, which means there’s a lot of catching up to do.
“They’re not in any financial trouble but the Network subscriber number is a genuine disappointment. The growth coming out of WrestleMania that would have been expected wasn’t there.
“The one thing that we have learned is that the two pay-per-views a month, that has not helped. The Network number is not growing the way they expected it to so that’s been a bad situation. But I don’t think they want to drop one of the pay-per-views because I think that would hurt ratings a little bit.”
It’s currently unclear what form this cost-cutting could take. It’s possible (and this is 100 percent speculation) that WWE might shed some main roster contracts, as those tend to be much higher than the developmental and NXT deals. But if they’re looking to save money on WWE Network content, that means we’re unlikely to see a weekly (or regular) U.K. show to go along with the U.K. title for the time being, as overseas production costs are far more than shows produced in the States.
There are also unlikely to be any major moves until after SummerSlam, as that weekend is going to earn scads of money for WWE, and they’ll have a much clearer picture on what their profits will look like for the remainder of the year.