It’s a week of historic numbers when it comes to the world of professional wrestling.
If there’s one number more historically significant than “21-1” coming out of the biggest week of the year for WWE, that number is: 667,287.
667,287 is the number of people who signed up — at $9.99 per month (with a six-month commitment, of course) — for the WWE Network.
The WWE Network officially launched on February 24th in the United States, and is expected to become available in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Nordics in late-2014 or early-2015.
Of course when releasing this figure to the public on Monday afternoon, WWE made their best effort to put a positive spin on the number, noting that the WWE Network is “the fastest-growing digital subscription service,” and that they are “well on [their] way to reaching [their] goal of one million subscribers by the end of 2014, just 42 days after launching in the U.S.”
That is all fine and well, but the bottom line is this: that number isn’t that good. It isn’t terrible either, but certainly would have to be classified as a bit of a disappointment.
You can look at it from the optimistic point-of-view and make the claim that convincing 667,287 people to spend $60 is impressive. You can claim that if that many people signed up “in just 42 days,” imagine how many people will have signed up by the end of the year.
The only problem is, it doesn’t work like that.
Optimism aside, the reality is if people were going to buy the WWE Network by now, considering the fact that WrestleMania XXX has come and gone, they would have. I don’t exactly see people lining up to buy the WWE Network for Extreme Rules, for example, if they didn’t already purchase the service for WrestleMania.
Surely fans will trickle in slowly as time goes on, but at the same time, the existing subscribers will dwindle as their six-month commitment expires.
After all, how many times can one watch old episodes of WCCW television?
The company will be heavily dependent on international subscriptions at this point, because the amount of domestic interest in this service isn’t enough to balance the books, so to speak, and some drastic changes will have to be made to make this thing financially feasible in the long run.
I have it on good authority that there is already discussion of raising the cost of the service. Early indications seem to be that the new subscription rate will be adjusted to $11.99.
That’s just the beginning, folks.
Much like the WWE Classics On Demand service, eventually less and less money will be put into this service if numbers don’t dramatically increase. As things stand now, there is a very limited amount of original programming, mainly due to the production costs, with concerns that if they overspend, and the subscription levels aren’t where they need to be, they’re in big financial trouble.
So enjoy the WWE Countdown shows, the WrestleMania Rewind shows, and upcoming shows such as Legends House and The Monday Night War while they last, because unless a whole crap-load of British and Canadian fans shell out 60 bucks, it’s only a matter of time before this thing starts to head south.
Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger.
What is your reaction to the WWE Network subscription numbers? Leave your feedback in the “Comments” section below. You can also follow me on Facebook for news coverage, as well as daily opinions and chats, by heading over to Facebook.com/MattBooneWZR.