Reaction To WWE Network Subscribers, WWE Studios Financials, IC Belt Meaningless, Heel Turn

Now that WWE has reported 700,000 WWE Network subscribers and laid out plans for international expansion, what is your reaction?

I was surprised to see the WWE Network gain only 33,000 subscribers from April through June. While they have added 161,000 subscribers since Wrestlemania XXX, they also lost 128,000 due to not being able to bill the cards on file. Most of us figured something was up when they opened the WWE Network completely free (without even a credit card) for an entire week and those concerns only grew with recent financial cutbacks. There are some positives to take away from the news.

First, WWE is bumping up the international expansion of the WWE Network. Beginning August 12, 2014, the service will be available in over 170 countries including Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Mexico, Spain and the Nordics. The United Kingdom will follow in October 2014 with Italy, UAE, Germany, Japan, India, China, Thailand and Malaysia following after that. Canada is getting an entirely different option with the WWE Network being available as a traditional a-la-carte Pay-TV channel through Rogers Communications.

Next, WWE is introducing new pricing plans. If you were an initial subscriber, you had the option to commit to $9.99/month for 6 months or buy a year gift subscription up front. Beginning next month, subscribers will have the option to go monthly (at $19.99/month) or pay for an entire 6 months in advance ($59.94).

So if there is any takeaway from the fact WWE Network has seen little growth from its initial surge, it’s that it will be available to more people with more options in the near future. I do think a target of 1 million domestic subscribers by the end of the year is going to be very difficult to reach.

How profitable is WWE Studios?

WWE Studios made $1.7 million in the second quarter of 2014, down from $2.1 million in the prior year quarter. The movie portfolio itself generated a loss of $0.2 million in the quarter compared to a loss of $0.4 million the prior year quarter. WWE stated in their earnings report that movies such as Scooby Doo! WrestleMania Mystery (direct-to-DVD), Oculus (theatrical), and Road to Paloma (direct-to-DVD) released in March, April, and July 2014 performed “in-line with expectations.”

I remember the days of the Ultimate Warrior, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, The Rock and Triple holding the Intercontinental Championship before they had a chance in the main event. Wouldn’t it be better for WWE to use the IC title as a gateway to future WWE champions like a Bray Wyatt or Roman Reigns?

I examined the usage of the Intercontinental Championship in a detailed article earlier this month and followed-up in Ask WNW. While I completely agree it’s the worker that makes the title, not the title that makes the worker, the Intercontinental Championship — or Intercontinental Champion to be specific — has been poorly booked over the years. As a result, the belt is no longer used as a gateway to introduce mid-card talent into the main event scene and is essentially a glorified prop. It will have to be a philosophical decision within WWE to change that but there has been no such thing in recent years. However, back to your question, I do feel it would be of better use to utilize the title in the fashion it was in previous decades.

Do you think it’s plausible that unlike what most others think, Stephanie McMahon will win at SummerSlam? I keep saying she needs to get her comeuppance, but in my opinion Brie already got her revenge by getting her arrested and getting her job back. I think the subtle things Stephanie has been saying to Nikki over the past few weeks, such as saying it is Brie’s fault that she is wrestling alone and the fact she offered her a pay rise, but Brie said she didn’t want that. I could see Nikki turning heel for a Brie vs Nikki feud obviously for the purposes of Total Divas. What’s your opinion?

Using the word ‘comeuppance’ in a question was a great way to get my attention and an answer to your question. I think you are dead on about Stephanie McMahon going over Brie Bella at SummerSlam to setup a Nikki Bella heel turn. In fact, I believe there are many that believe the match will be booked as you have suggested. Brie Bella got her revenge and now it’s Stephanie that needs to prove her power. Many have asked what I think of Stephanie vs. Brie at SummerSlam and while I don’t expect a particularly good wrestling match, it was an entertaining segment on Raw this week. If they can entertain at SummerSlam like they did on Raw, I will be pleased.

From the Ask WNW vault…

March 2012: How long does the WWE Wellness Policy last? I realize it one strike is a 30-day suspension, two strikes is a 60-day suspension and three strikes results in termination. However, let’s take Evan Bourne for example. If he fails another Wellness test in let’s say three years, would he still be fired? What about William Regal, who also has two violations? Is there a time when the policy resets? - The policy doesn’t reset and even if Evan Bourne or William Regal were terminated and later re-signed, they would return with two Wellness Test failures. If a worker has three failures and they are terminated, they will remain terminated for at least one year. If WWE brings them back after their minimum termination of one year they will return with two Wellness strikes, must test negative during pre-screening and will be subject to strict random testing while they are under WWE contract. The entire WWE Wellness Policy is online at this link.

Questions that are legible stand the best chance of getting answered. The next installment of Ask WNW is scheduled to run on Friday, August 1, 2014.

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  • BIG M

    I’ve always said the WWE Network will only get a million subscribers when it goes international.
    And since I’ve been lucky enough to take part in the international beta testing and have been watching the Network for a week in my native Australia watching old WCW and ECW shows I haven’t seen in years as well as cool original content I can safely say I’m going to subscribe when it officially becomes available which it now looks like could happen before the end of the year instead of early 2015.
    Although I still think WWE would’be been better off giving pay tv companies the first play of new PPV’s based on the fact that despite PPV’s being considerably cheaper on the Network Wrestlemania, Extreme Rules and Money in the Bank still had a lot of traditional PPV buys.

    • Bob’s Diner

      1 million is still the DOMESTIC target – 1.5 million is the international target

    • Scott Davies

      I’m Australian, but i will admit. The UK i think will drive in numbers. The UK has a huge fan base & that alone i think will boost numbers.

    • Fransico

      I agree, I’ve had a chance too watch the network for t be past week or so and I will be getting it also when it becomes available for good where I’m from. By the way, how you been Mr. Decaf?

  • Craig

    Richard, this new site design when browsing on a smart phone is awful. Half the page is took up by the menu bar at the top and adverts and ‘back to the top’ button at the bottom. Thumbnails are too big as a result of all the space took up so you can only get one article on the screen at once meaning you have to scroll and scroll. And lastly, you can’t tell on a smartphone which articles are premium and which aren’t without clicking on them.

    • thatoneguy10

      I completely agree.

    • gshot22

      I agree on the new site. But my thing is with the bellas and a heel turn, how would that play out on total divas

    • Mysterion

      What smart phone are y’all using? The iPhone app works perfectly for me.

    • Venom

      I know it’s annoying. First the WWE Network in Canada and now this… What a day!

      • Venom

        Ok the comments I wrote were on my phone cuz I was at the gym. Tried accessing the site in my iPad and it won’t load. There goes my OCD of checking the site every few hours cuz I rarely use my phone to browse not sure why was it changed. If t ain’t broke don’t fix it. So I doubt I’ll be posting in the comments as much as I used to.

        • Venom

          Damn I tested the site on my computer and the comments won’t even load. The main section has large photos you’re bit sure if you’re seeing an askWNW, premium article or blog.

    • Mysterion

      Wait no. It’s just updated… It’s terrible!!!!

    • Venom

      If u click on the top left of the screen there is a menu. You can click on the desktop version. Just saw it right now and the site is back to normal. I was a web/graphic designer myself but always hated mobile version of websites.

  • John

    According to Dave Meltzer, the WWE Network lost 10,000 subscribers in the past 30 days and the real number as of today is 690,000.

  • Josh

    This might be a stupid question, but I just decided to try and get back into wrestling because the network was only $9.99/mo. July was my first month. So, now that they’re upping the pricing to $20/mo, does that mean my 6 month commitment is void and I’ll have the option to renew it for $20 per month or do I get to fulfill my 6 month commitment before I have to choose to pay the 20? It’s only $10 more, but I’m a kid in college and I’m not entirely sure it’s worth the extra $10 (other than old ppvs) because I can’t get into wrestling the same way I used to and I hear new ppvs are hit & miss nowadays.

    • Splat

      It’s only going to be $20 a month if you don’t want to do the commitment. If you stick with the commitment plan it stays $10 a month.

      • Josh

        Oh, ok! Then I’ll stick with it. Thanks for the reply, dude.

        • Scott Davies

          Yeah the 6 month commitment is a better deal.

          • chains2

            yeah but now you have to pay the $60 up front

  • Venom

    Hey Richard, do you have any info why the network is what it is in Canada? I was looking forward to the Netflix concept not this horrible 10 year sentence were getting.

    • Nathen

      Speculation, but it sounds fairly close to what we see in the US with various TV networks on demand. I suspect there will be a channel that runs 24/7 playing the same thing the live stream on the network plays. The on demand library could be accessed through the cable company’s on demand screen. But that is just pure guesswork based on what I read about it and how on demand is handled by cable companies in the US. I could be wrong.

  • Holden Patrick Harris

    yay for the network in canada, boo for it being on cable. now i have to get cable instead of use my xbox. its a minor thing, but still ugh. and i still think kharma is gonna come back at summerslam. im willing to bet a high five on it.

    • Bob’s Diner

      Hadn’t thought about that possibility – consider your wager accepted!

      • Holden Patrick Harris

        or something i really want to see. trish stratus or lita come back and side with steph and join “the authority” i can see this storyline ending at survivor series though. team vince vs team hunter. a lot off topic but whatever haha.

  • Scott Davies

    Giving that the network has only been launched since February, so i think this is a good number. People complain about lack of content & i knew they were going to put content on there slowly when they launched it. $9.99 a month for a 6 month commitment is not bad & it proves Americans are stupid & greedy.

  • Padres4life

    so if Brie loses, then what was the point? Is it just to get Brie over as a face? but they’re not going to actually do anything with her? I don’t get the point of this having Stephanie win.

  • K!NG

    once again the introduction of the MITB contract has made all secondary titles meaningless. who needs to use the IC title as a stepping stone when you can get a contract that you can use any where any time. the Logic in how things were with secondary titles and how they are now has changed. I do agree guys such roman reigns and bray wyatt should be competing for the IC until they get the main event call. good Feuds drive the value of any belt up. I don’t have a problem with Miz being IC champ but if they don’t plan on at least giving him a few months back in the main event after his IC title run then it was pretty much worthless.