WWE Network set for April 1 launch
December 5, 2011
The WWE Network is set to launch on April 1st of next year. The Sports Business Journal reports that its in talks with In Demand and other cable operators to carry the network.
The WWE expects to reach 40 million homes with its network which would have the same reach as Fuel TV and the Fox Soccer Channel. However, it must reach carriage agreements with satellite and cable operators including Cox, Comcast and Time Warner.
Its expected that the WWE will follow the same model as other sports networks by having live events on its network. Notably, some of the WWE’s current PPVs will move over to the network.
The SBJ article notes that the WWE is considering programming beyond wrestling and there’s a possibility it would include some team sports.
In addition to the WWE Network on satellite and cable, it will also have a channel on YouTube.
As the WWE network takes shape, it will be interesting to see how many PPVs will migrate to the network. As Cageside Seats suggests, the converted PPVs could be a value add to attract viewers to the network. By subtracting PPVs and leaving only its big draw PPVs (i.e., Wrestlemania, Survivor Series, Summerslam and Royal Rumble) it could help bolster PPV buys.
Its interesting to note that the UFC’s model differs from the WWE as the UFC relies on its PPVs whereas it appears that the WWE will focus on building its network through moving its PPVs to the WWE network. This is a good idea considering the content of some of the WWE PPVs were not PPV quality. As such, it has been reflective in its PPV buys.
As the WWE Network is taking shape, the biggest hurdle seems to be striking a deal with the satellite and cable operators to come to a deal that will land it on a tier that would be attractive to the casual viewer. Comcast has taken the lead in negotiating a deal on behalf of the WWE. This is likely due to the popular WWE Raw being on the USA Network, a Comcast property.