“I destroyed every competing promotion, bought their tapes then squandered it all on a single bad bet. F*cking wrestling, amirite?”
Hey everybody, who out there likes the WWE Network? Well, you’d better enjoy it while you can, because it may not be around much longer. The network hasn’t exactly gone as WWE planned, only pulling in around 650,000 subscribers (well short of the 1.3 million needed to make it a profitable venture) despite the company brutally slaughtering the golden goose by giving away their pay-per-views for essentially free. On TV the “Only 9.99!” hard sell never ends, but behind the scenes WWE may already be planning to throw in the towel.
According to entertainment industry insiders, WWE plans to sell their entire wrestling library, all 150,000 hours of it, to Warner Bros. WWE spent a good decade steadily accumulating the tape libraries of nearly every major American wrestling promotion in history (or at least, all the ones that did television) as part of their plans to eventually launch a network, and the fact that they’re now looking to part with the whole shebang pretty much spells doom for the WWE Network. Without the library the WWE Network is basically NXT, the 12 pay-per-views and Total Divas re-runs.
The sale of the library, assuming it’s happening, raises all sorts of interesting questions, such as…
1) Where does WWE go from here? They’ve pretty much let the cat out of the bag when it comes to pay-per-views — there’s no going back to charging $60 now. Perhaps instead of trying to sell a “network” they can simply focus on offering pay-per-views and “special events” without all the extra chaff at a somewhat higher price (say, $20). Only the hardest of the hardcore fans seem to have any interest in a WWE streaming service, so you may as well gouge us suckers just a bit harder.
2) What exactly is Warner Bros. going to do with all that wrestling content? Warner Bros. owns HBO and it’s no secret HBO Go is gearing up to challenge Netflix for streaming entertainment supremacy — could they be planning to compliment their sports and boxing content with wrestling?
Interesting times ahead folks. Interesting, exciting, kind of scary times.
Update: Some sites are now saying this isn’t true, citing inside WWE sources, but this would be far, far, far from the first time inside WWE sources tried to throw the Internet off the scent of a legit story. Also, there’s talk that WWE is simply switching DVD distributors, but that’s not the wording of the original story at all. It seems unlikely a giant like Warner Bros. is particularly interested in getting into the wrestling DVD game, but it’s impossible to say for sure until WWE says something official. More updates if/when WWE makes a statement, or The Wrap recants their story.