When WWE reveals the latest WWE Network subscriber count this week, we will get a pretty good idea of whether or not the service will ultimately be a success or failure.
We’ll have a much better idea when the six-month subscriptions expire in September, however this will be our first look since the initial figure of 667,000 subscribers was announced earlier this year.
Unfortunately for many, I honestly don’t think the number WWE reports, if it’s accurate, will be much different than the 667,000 subscribers they revealed in April. My reasoning is pretty basic, which is that if you didn’t order the WWE Network before or during WrestleMania XXX, there’s not a great chance that you ordered it for something else afterwards.
Honestly, what would entice someone to sign up who didn’t bother to already for WrestleMania XXX, when the same content was available then as it is now? If you want to sign up for WWE Countdown and WrestleMania Rewind, you would have signed up prior to WrestleMania XXX. Legends House? Same thing. Access to thousands of archived content from the multiple WWE libraries? Same thing. All of that was available then the same way it is now and if you didn’t sign up for it then, I’m not sure why you would now.
While I won’t give an exact number, because that’s like finding a needle in a haystack, I will predict that the number isn’t higher than 750,000. Hell, I’d be surprised if it were higher than 715,000, as that is roughly 50,000 new subscribers from April until now. I would say that at best WWE lured 50,000 more through the tragic death of Ultimate Warrior, which resulted in some appealing content becoming available that wasn’t there prior to WrestleMania XXX.
I say the Warrior stuff mixed with all of the promotional offers, such as free WWE merchandise and other promotional moves that the company has been making will give the total number a slight bump, but nothing drastic.
What’s concerning, among other things, about this number range for the WWE Network subscriber count is that contrary to what WWE is claiming, it does include a lot of international subscribers as well. While the product hasn’t been officially rolled out in international markets as of yet, there have been quite a bit of people from markets outside of the United States that have claimed to have signed up for the service already.
If the number comes out in around the same range as I’m predicting, than it means we will likely see a couple different reactionary measures taken. First and foremost, WWE is going to throw up a hail mary for their Night Of Champions show, which is where most of the 667,000 subscribers that they already have will see their existing subscriptions expire. WWE will have to lure those people back before they can even think of trying to make that number bigger, as many will not be returning because WrestleMania 31 will not be part of the next six-month package.
Like it or not, a lot of those 667,000 subscribers signed up just to get WrestleMania XXX at $9.99, along with the next five months worth of pay-per-views at the same rate. Once WrestleMania isn’t in the picture, how interested are those same subscribers going to be in signing up again when they will only be paying for B-level pay-per-views and only a couple of actual original shows? There’s only so many episodes of old WCCW and Mid South wrestling a person can watch before they grow tired of it.
Another measure WWE may take is jacking up the price of a subscription. I’m of the opinion that had WWE made the product a $15 a month buy instead of $9.99, considering it’s the first time fans were introduced to a concept that a pay-per-view show, which used to run them 50 bucks or so, is now available at a fraction of the price. Because of that, I don’t think those same fans would say “nah, $15 isn’t worth it for WrestleMania. It’s either $9,99, or I’d rather pay $50 or $75.” Obviously they would still be likely to sign up for the bargain price of $15 a month for WrestleMania and other pay-per-views and content, just as much as they were at the $9.99 price tag.
I think WWE went with the $9.99 figure because similar services were offering their product at that price and it seemed to be the going rate within that industry. The difference is, WWE is offering a whole hell of a lot more than the other products, so a $5 increase in cost would be more than fair and likely equally as appealing to their fan base. I think they really shot themselves in the foot with the low price tag because now when they raise it, which I believe they will eventually do, it will turn a lot of fans off who may take that as the first sign of many.
Finally, another reaction WWE may take is to stop spending money on producing original content. Much like they did with their 24/7 On Demand service when that subscriber count started to go south, they stopped putting money into the product and month-by-month, if you were a subscriber, you were getting less and less content for your money. I think the same may happen with WWE Network, where eventually they just offer some of their library and their pay-per-views, but stop offering all of these original shows that cost a lot of money to produce.
What do you guys predict the next WWE Network subscriber count to be? Leave your feedback in the “Comments” section below. You can also hit me up at Facebook.com/MattBooneWZR and/or on Twitter @MBoone420.