Jim Ross opines on future of Fight Pass/WWEN
October 20, 2014
Former WWE color commentator Jim Ross had some interesting comments about the future of UFC Fight Pass as he seemed rather bullish on the future of the over the top model. The comments come at a time when online services seem to be on the rise…or maybe on the decline depending on what you read.
In an interview with Bloody Elbow, Ross was quoted that the shift for companies such as the UFC and WWE to digital networks is a thing of the future. Despite the rocky starts for each, he believes that it is a “genius-like maneuver.”
With last week’s announcements that HBO and CBS were offering online services and ESPN providing a streaming-only service for NBA content the week before, it’s apparent that over the top (OTT) network offerings are the growing trend. But, is there enough of a market for them? Although the model seems to be geared toward cord cutters, it would seem that the addition of so many subscription services would negate any savings from cancelling a traditional cable package? Would it impact ad revenue?
The WWE will make its quarterly earnings call on October 30th and we will see how much of a dent it has made in its goal of 1 million subscribers to its OTT WWE Network. You may recall it made a meager increase in its goal last quarter. The last report this summer indicated that it had added just 33,000 subscribers for approximately 700,000 total subscribers. Even with the addition of an international market, it is unlikely that the 1 million goal could be met. This should be something that other OTT subscription services should take notice.
On the other hand, all reports suggest that the UFC Fight Pass is doing well (although no numbers have been revealed). But, unlike the WWE, it keeps its PPVs separate from the network. Fight Pass is geared for the hardcore fan and it would be hard to argue that it takes away from the UFC’s PPV buy rate. While Fight Pass offers an extensive fight library and live fights from overseas, most of the marquee names and match-ups remain on PPV.
So, will digital networks like the WWE Network and UFC Fight Pass thrive in the future? Perhaps for the young, cost-conscious consumer that is savvy enough to deal with the online world but do not want to be tied down with a traditional cable package. But, it’s unlikely to take over.