The WWE Network: Iceberg Dead Ahead Captain

Holy shit could it be even more content on the main page? Yes it seems for some reason we’ve upped our workrate around here so I figured I might as well contribute. Yes I know the Lethal women of rasslin tournament fizzled (but come on it’s women’s wrestling…so who cares anyway). But despite being burned out on wrestling in general, I had to write something because behind the scenes the WWE with Vince McMahon at the helm might be driving their ship straight into an iceberg.

What iceberg could be so big that it could sink the WWE you ask?

The WWE Network; That’s what. We haven’t heard much about the WWE Network lately and well there’s a good reason for that. The little news there is not too good.

Now you say to yourself “but Phantom, the WWE owns every friggin video library of worth and not to mention the bazillion hours of footage they have of their own stuff over the last 50 years”. How can they not be able to get a network together with all that?

Well the short answer is Vince McMahon is an idiot.

The long answer is Vince McMahon is a senile old man who thinks you can still put a cable network up like they did back in the 80’s. Sure back in the 80’s anyone with money could buy space on a satellite and boom you’d be on the air. Well it’s a little bit different now. Now you need to get onto the cable systems first before you can even think of getting the space on some clunker in low earth orbit.

Okay so if getting on regular cable won’t work then what is left?

Pay Television.

You mean like HBO and Showtime? Yes that kind of pay television.

Vince McMahon is looking at selling the network on the greatest value in entertainment in the sense the die-hard fans are going to save themselves significant money by subscribing. The theory espoused is that the PPV numbers domestically are down so much because the younger demos are pirating everything but Mania, and maybe Rumble and SummerSlam. McMahon apparently believes that for $14.95 a month, with the ability to watch in HD on their television legally, he can get them back.
Credit to www.f4wonline.com

What? I mean seriously…WHAT?

First off; what about those of us who don’t have HD? But secondly it really has nothing to do with that.

This is the reason I retired from full time column writing. It’s because having to say this over and over and over and OVER AND FUCKING OVER AND OVER AND OVER…it drove me a bit crazy.

WWE PPV’s at the moment cost $44.95. That’s $44.95 a month (never mind Wrestlemania which is at Boxing PPV prices). If the content on the shows sucks and there is nothing that makes us the true core of the audience say “holy shit, I gotta’ fucking order this” then it wouldn’t matter what the PPV’s cost. It could cost what it cost fifteen years ago and I still wouldn’t order it.

Vince just doesn’t get that. That’s the problem with the senile old bastard. He just doesn’t get it that it’s his fucking vision for the company that is the problem. Yes he was great in 1985 when he took rasslin out of the smoke filled VFW halls and put it into the mainstream of Americana. But aside from getting really lucky with Stone Cold in 1997 and getting really lucky having The Rock show up a year later…McMahon doesn’t really have that great a track record of success. I mean seriously the only slam-dunks he can honestly say he’s had are Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, The Rock, and John Cena. Each of those men had carried their era of wrestling. In between of those eras there was a lull…a lull not unlike the one that we are in now.

The only difference between those lulls and the ones we as fans are sitting through now is back then Vince at least had the balls to pull the trigger so to speak. When McMahon made a decision that was it and it was full speed ahead. But nowadays when Vince makes a decision odds are he’ll change his mind a few minutes later. The WWE is very much a ship and right now the Captain is drunk and delusional at the wheel.

So is the WWE Network. The WWE has more then enough video footage to run a regular archive network with new content just like the NBA, NFL, and MLB do with their respective networks. But Vince would never allow the WWE Network to just be the rasslin network. No damn it, it has to be GROUNDBREAKING AND REVOLUTIONARY. THE WWE IS AMERICANA…IT’S NOT JUST WRESTLING. And there lies the problem. No clear direction set for the network other then we’re the WWE. We encompass all entertainment. The WWE Network is going to be a niche entertainment channel at best.

Dave Meltzer crunched some numbers and it shows you just how big a hole the WWE has dug themselves with this thing. Meltzer believes that the WWE Network would need 1 million subscribers to break even because as noted earlier basically every WWE PPV not named Wrestlemania or Summerslam would be on the WWE Network.

The problem is, the number of people who pirate all over the world for a usual show of late has been less than 200,000, and maybe half of that would be in the U.S. Even if every one of those people now buys the network, and that’s not going to happen, you are still taking in significantly less than what they are already getting for the PPVs alone.
Credit to www.f4wonline.com

Cagesideseats.com summed it up best here.

By Meltzer’s calculations, WWE may need as many as 1.05 million subscribers to the network to break even if they charge $15 a month, between the operational running costs and killing their monthly PPV business dead. Thus, even if WWE managed to turn everyone who bought a non-WrestleMania PPV in the last twelve months into a subscriber, then they’d still be on course to make major losses.

Now I’m not an economics major. I mean I took a business math class back when I was in high school so I could graduate on time, but that was the cliff notes version. Anyway the one thing I learned in that class is Black = Good and Red = Bad. The WWE network is all ready sucking up all the extra cash the WWE has on hand. If they even come close to getting the damn thing up and running it would torpedo all the WWE’s finances. I know this is pretty heavy, especially for Lethal.

Basically they would need every person who ordered Wrestlemania + everyone else who just streams shows + another million for this thing to ever see black.

If this were any other company on earth, Vince would have been sacked by now.

The way I see it they only have one real option and that’s to give up the idea of the WWE Network ever happening. I know what you’re thinking. “Phantom you really must be a fat fucking idiot if you think that would happen”. Well okay that might be harsh (and true). But all one has to do is look at the WBF and XFL to see how this is going to end up. Vince McMahon is too much of a micromanager for the WWE Network to ever be pulled off.

If you want an even better idea of where the WWE Network is headed, I have three letters for you.

O.W.N.

The Oprah Network is a prime example of a network that was thrown together with no real plan behind it. When it came to O.W.N., Oprah went to the heads of the big cable providers looking to get clearance. She pitched the channel in a less then stellar manner basically selling it as all Oprah all the time. Oprah is part of Americana. How could it fail? Well a year and a half later and dismal ratings say that the Discovery Health channel was more of a success then O.W.N. So the WWE was in the same position as Oprah. Vince sold it, as the WWE is part of Americana that’s all you need to know. Well the cable companies all ready took a hit with the Oprah channel and the WWE Network would at best have a quarter of what the Oprah channel pulls in viewers on a good week.

You can see the problem here. So with basic cable being out apparently the only option left is pay television. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I know my cable bill is pretty bloated as it is right now. Adding a channel that would cost another $15 dollars a month is just money that a lot of us do not have.

Now I believe the WWE has a solution right in front of them but Vince is too blind to see it. The solution is not pay television. The solution is On Demand and they have that service in WWE Classics. The WWE Network is basically going to be the on demand thing except it would be updated way more often. Seeing how I’m going into the entertainment industry as a screenwriter, I do pay attention to trends. People don’t have time to watch television when it airs. We DVR everything now and watch it when we feel like it.

The simplest solution is usually the best one. If I were working for the WWE I would tell the old man look this network thing isn’t going to work unless you launch your own damn satellite. Look at Hop Along Howie and his On Demand network. That’s updated fairly often. Take WWE Classics and rename it The WWE Network and instead of updating it twice a month, update the damn thing every couple of days. As it is they only probably show a tenth of what they can on WWE Classics anyway. They plan on shutting WWE Classics down to concentrate on the WWE Network. The WWE loves touting (no not that tout) that it’s always on the cusp of entertainment. Well I can almost guarantee that the WWE would have a hell of a lot more success with the WWE Network being on demand then would ever having it as a cable station basic or otherwise.

Trust me when I say this. On Demand content is the future.

Ultimately I believe the WWE Network will quietly fade away as most things that the WWE bombs with do anyway. It was a novel concept, but as I said it would never work with Vince in charge of it.

Hey it looks like I still have the hang of this whole column-writing thing still. It only took me about three weeks (I’m not kidding either) to write this. Now you see why everyone does podcasts. Any idiot with a web cam or microphone can spout his thoughts and make a post. Someone like me who puts actual thought and effort into his work and it takes me forever.

On that note I shall leave. Oh if you were curious who actually would have won the Women Of Rasslin tournament…flip a coin between AJ and Trish and that’s your winner.

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About Phantom Lord

My name's Joe aka Phantom Lord. I've been with Lethal for the last six years or so. Along with my old friend Dumass we had the first podcast on this site called IWC Coast To Coast. Several years and several failed attempts later, that eventually became what is now known as Lethal Radio...only with way better production and better content. Aside from that I am a screen writing major in college, a delusional Ron Paul Republican, and generally bitter.

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