June 2, 2015
Welcome back to another edition of The Wrestling Post. This time around we take at the WWE Network offering another free month and the uncertainty of the status of TNA Wrestling.
WWE offers another free month on its Network
With the success of recruiting and retaining more network subscribers through its “free” network months, the WWE has added another free month of June for non-subscribers. It just came off a “free” month of May which culminated in a special live show.
Payout Take: There is no initial reason given for the second consecutive month of the “free” Network offer. We can’t read into anything but from the past indicators, the WWE has been able to collect a fair number of new paid subscribers from its free promotion. Thus, when people sign up for the free month, they tend to stay on and pay the following month instead of cancelling after the free month is up. The one question is whether the “free” month will be a mainstay for the network. It appears that the this strategy is the “go to” move to boost subscribers. We shall see if this means another improvement with its overall subscription numbers when it makes another announcement after the end of the second quarter.
Ring of Honor now on Destination America; TNA status in jeopardy
In what was a newsworthy week last week for the Discovery Network’s offshoot, Destination America, it was announced that wrestling promotion Ring of Honor will air on the network starting Wednesday, June 3rd. The interesting part about this situation is that the ROH announcement came after news that Destination America would not renew TNA Wrestling next year. The Wrestling Observer first reported the news that TNA Wrestling would be not renewed as Dave Meltzer obtained an internal memo from Destination America indicating that the promotion would not be renewed. TNA Wrestling is being moved from Friday to Wednesday and will now serve as the lead-in for ROH. While there was the possibility that Destination America could have changed its mind if TNA ratings skyrocketed on Wednesday nights, the ROH announcement makes it highly unlikely TNA will be back on Destination America once its contract ends this year. The station had an “out clause” at the end of the current TV season according to The Wrestling Observer.
Ring of Honor programming is currently available regionally via the Sinclair Broadcast Group. The Destination America deal is great for the promotion since it gives them national exposure and taps into markets that it could not reach with Sinclair. According to The Wrestling Observer, the deal with ROH will only go through December 2, 2015 so we may see more movement from Destination America this year.
Payout Take: Regardless of the semantics (cancelled vs. not renewed), Destination America made the decision that the production costs of carrying TNA Wrestling outweighed the ratings (and ad revenue) it received from the program. Ring of Honor is a cheaper alternative for Destination America since it will not be paying for production costs for ROH. Wednesday will be filled with wrestling as it joins Lucha Underground and NXT with live wrestling that night.
January 6, 2015
2014 was supposed to be a big year for the WWE. With the launch of its network and its media rights fees up for grabs, the company stock skyrocketed on speculation that the company would become an instant revenue-generating machine. The stock went as high as $31.39 in March but fell to $10.85 just two months later due to market realities.
WWE Network Launches
In February, the WWE launched it’s over the top network which came with much anticipation and fanfare. Despite technological issues from launch, people were still bullish on the network. But the momentum came to a halt with the reveal of the first subscriber numbers. With a target of gaining 1 million subscribers by the end of 2014, the WWE officially reported just slightly over 667,000 at the end of the second quarter. It then just grew to 731,000 viewers at the end of the third quarter.
The WWE initially offered the network for $9.99 with a 6 month commitment. It’s key selling point from the start was that those who signed up would receive Wrestlemania for just $9.999 instead of the traditional price point of $60-$70.
After sluggish numbers, it allowed a free month preview in November. It also eliminated the 6 month commitment so that no one would be latched on by a 6 month commitment.
It was known that the WWE would lose money this year due to starting the network and essentially losing its PPV business. But, it appears at this point it overestimated the subscriber interest in the network. With the rollout of the network in other countries, the WWE hopes that its subscribers will grow as well.
Wrestlemania still an economic boon
Wrestlemania XXX in New Orleans generated an economic impact for the region of $142.2 million which is a record for Wrestlemanias and the third straight year it has generated over $100 million in positive economic impact for its host city. With Wrestlemania available on the WWE Network and on PPV, the total amount of viewers exceeded 1 million.
WWE renews rights with NBCU
In May, the WWE renewed its media rights with NBC Universal. Immediately after the announcement, stock shares dropped which would indicate that the deal was not near what investors had wished. The initial hope was to double its prior deal of $140,000 to $280,000. However, this did not happen. Low advertising rates and the negative perception of its programming likely held back the WWE’s hopes for a NASCAR or MLS-like deal.
Ring of Honor on PPV
In June, wrestling promotion Ring of Honor tried its hand at traditional PPV. It was a way for ROH’s parent company, Sinclair Broadcasting, to see where it could take the company. Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer reported 10,000 buys which was the break even mark for the company. In comparison, kickboxing organization, Glory only had 6,000 PPV buys for its PPV held the same weekend in June.
TNA Wrestling leaves SpikeTV
In July, TMZ Sports broke the news that Spike TV was not renewing Impact Wrestling for 2015. Despite initial reports that the sides were still negotiating an extension, it was confirmed that 2014 would be the end of the road for the 2 hour show on the network. In November, TNA announced it had signed a pact with Discovery Communications for its show to air on Destination America starting Friday, January 16th. Coincidentally, it is the same night that New Japan Wrestling premieres on AXS TV.
Lucha Underground debuts on El Rey
A new lucha libre, telenovela-style show backed by Mark Burnett (of Survivor and The Apprentice fame) debuted in October. The show was made available in English and Spanish. It has received rave reviews although the ratings have not mirrored the praise. It is a different type of show which infuses drama and action.
Former wrestler sues WWE in first concussion lawsuit
In October, former WWE wrestler Billy Jack Haynes sued the WWE claiming that the company knew of the inherent risks its wrestlers took when it allowed them to perform stunts which included taking shots to the head causing head injuries. Haynes and his attorneys are seeking class action status. The lawsuit, filed in the federal district court of Oregon, is ongoing and the WWE lawyers have requested an extension of time to answer the Complaint.
New Japan Pro Wrestling
The Japanese wrestling promotion will make its way to American television in January 2015 as it will appear on AXS TV starting Friday, January 16th. 13 episodes will run on the network and will have the broadcast team of Mauro Ranallo and Josh Barnett dubbing in the commentary.
In following in the footsteps of the WWE, New Japan unveiled its own over the top streaming network for 999 yen or $8.40 U.S. Wrestling fans may start to see more of New Japan in 2015.