If you watch WWE, you likely know that it needs subscribers to its newest major project, the WWE Network. We know Vince McMahon set a goal of one million subscribers by the end of its first year online, but the network may, at this point, only have 700,000 subscribers. In the spring of last year they announced that the network had only 667,000 paid subscribers. The most recent total subscription count is around 730,000. In just a few weeks WWE will release their fourth quarter financial results, and we’ll see if Vince McMahon has successfully reached his goal or not. No matter what happens, the WWE Network needs to improve their outreach and programming to help grow their (potentially paid) audience. We’ve got some suggestions.
1. Morning/Night Shows
A morning show is rumored, but it’s needed ASAP. The network needs regular (possibly live) non-wrestling content. I want to see a morning show, but just as badly, I want a night show with established, credible hosts. Give a microphone to talent like Renee Young, Corey Graves, Alex Riley, and Hulk Hogan. The WWE loves to brag about their relationships with multiple mainstream Hollywood performers—this is a perfect opportunity to utilize those relationships. Take what Fox News does with Fox and Friends; copy it. It’s cheap, easy, live, network-exclusive content.
Recently on the WWE Network we saw a live “Stone Cold” Steve Austin podcast with Mr. McMahon. We can only hope there is more where that came from. Chris Jericho, Bill Goldberg, and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper have recently produced their own podcasts with PodcastOne. There is money in podcasting, why is WWE not taking advantage of the performers they’ve spent years investing in? I’d even like to see WWE produce audio podcasts as a bonus to a network subscription.
3. Stronger TV Product
A better TV product may be the most obvious step to take in improving the network. WWE has forsaken the traditional television Pay-Per-View (PPV) model, choosing to air its monthly special events live on its network. The PPV model was a fruitful revenue stream, and that loss in revenue needs to be made up. A higher-rated TV product will lead to more sales in WWE Network subscriptions.
4. WWE Network KIDS App/Setting
The WWE has an opportunity, at this point, to market the WWE Network to families. Parents are looking for kid-friendly TV shows and movies to stream from their iPads and Rokus as they phase out their satellite television subscriptions. The WWE Network is the answer. Saturday morning cartoons may be a thing of the past on cable, but the WWE Network on Saturday mornings should feature WWE Slam City and movies like The Chaperone.
5. Broken Skull Ranch, MacMillan River Adventures, DDP Yoga
“Stone Cold” wants to be a reality competition TV host, Shawn Michaels wants to hunt with his friends, Trish Stratus and DDP love yoga. Bring these people in, take their interests, and use them. I’d be interested in seeing WWE purchase the rights to past seasons of Macmillan River Adventures and Broken Skull Ranch.
The WWE Network is not doing as well subscriber-wise as we wrestling fans had hoped. The Network launched in the United States at the end of February last year. They just recently launched in the United Kingdom. (Perhaps the global expansion of the network will put the subscriber count over the top!) It’s going to take great, creative marketing and diverse, consistent content to make this network a home run.