Jake Mann of The Motley Fool penned an article titled "3 Reasons the WWE Network Will Fail" that was published on Tuesday. I completely disagree with the article and will do my best to unpack why below:
* Mann asserts a "version" of the WWE Network "has flopped before" and breaks down the fact WWE 24/7 only had 115,000 subscribers and makes a sweeping assumption that this is all that is interested in the company's archived footage. I'll argue WWE 24/7 was poorly promoted and had limited distribution and accessibility. Pro wrestling is how I make a living and even I didn't have interest in WWE 24/7.
* The author wrote the numbers don't add up, writing "most sources cite" the WWE Network break even point is 1 million subscribers. We can stop there for a second as there is no need for "sources." WWE has emphatically stated 1,000,000 subscribers is the break even point and anything under that, they'll view as an investment. WWE hopes to reach 1 million subscribers by the end of 2014 to consider the launch successful.
* Mann goes on to take Wrestlemania buys from last year and WWE 24/7 subscribers as a basis for a claim to assert 1,000,000 subscribers is not possible, considering the company will have to have more subscribers than Wrestlemania buyers last year. Wrestlemania carries a hefty price tag that even the most hardcore fan can have trouble financing. The WWE audience is much larger than that and while Mann points to the company's social media followers, I'll point to the weekly audience that watches Raw. WWE has an audience of more than 4 million that watches Raw in the United States each week, which is proof alone there are more than enough people engaged that will have at least *some* interest in WWE Network.
* The final point the author makes is one I somewhat agree with. Mann mentions technical issues having the potential to derail WWE Network and that's absolutely true. In fact, most people that will agree with this guy will point to the issues they've had in week one. However, the issues I've experienced have been very limited. Some have had a harder time than others and while I've clearly been one of the lucky ones, issues with the live feed have been even more limited. WWE cannot afford to have issues during Wrestlemania but I expect them to be resolved.
You can read the article in its entirety at this link.
To read the counterpoint article titled "The WWE Network Will Succeed," click here
You all know where I stand but I will admit it is a 180 from my initial position. My change has to do with distribution and price. When Vince McMahon was pushing to launch WWE Network as a traditional cable/satellite network and the providers didn't want to touch it, I didn't think there was any way it would work. It's hard enough to get people to watch and if you can't get on the systems in the first place, it's going to be an uphill battle. However, by launching over the top, that's not the case. Anyone has the ability to subscribe. That wouldn't be the case if it were limited to traditional distribution.
The former also helps the latter. Because distribution is over the top and not controlled by the cable and satellite providers, the price is lower. In fact, $9.99/month still seems too good to be true, however, even if they had a 100% price increase, it'd still be half of what they were charging for pay-per-views. I'll argue that a larger percentage of WWE's fan base will be interested in WWE Network because it's easier to access and more affordable.
What's your position? Feel free to sound off in the comment area below.