When the WWE unveiled the WWE Network back in January, it was looked at as a coup for the company and a sound investment into its future.
The WWE received rave reviews from experts and pundits, who lauded WWE’s foresight and willingness to embark on such an endeavor.
After the company announced the number of subscribers the network had as of June 30 during its quarterly conference call Thursday, the opinions have begun to change.
The WWE announced that the WWE Network had nearly 700,000 subscribers, which was only a slight increase from the 667,287 it announced back in April.
NASDAQ.com believes the disappointing subscriber numbers combined with the rapidly dropping pay-per-view numbers put the WWE’s financial future in jeopardy.
Unfortunately for WWE, the logic and reality have not matched up — the number of paid users for the network, which the company announced Thursday, is stunningly disappointing.
The WWE also announced during the conference call that it would be cutting 7 percent of its work force in an effort to save money. According to NASDAQ.com, the cuts should save $10 million in 2014 and $30 million in 2015. One could point to the lack of success of the network as one of the reasons for that.
It’s hard to see the launch of the WWE Network as anything other than a disaster, but it’s a disaster the company can recover from. WWE has done a lousy job explaining how the network works to the millions of fans who watch its Raw and Smackdown programs. It has corrected that in recent weeks by comparing it to Netflix, but the messaging must improve.
WWE has a good product. The network offers a tremendous value, and it makes sense for even casual fans. Ultimately that should lead to success, but the company will have to travel a very bumpy road to get there.
The WWE has seemingly begun that road already, as they announced that it would roll out the WWE Network globally starting Aug. 12. It also announced a partnership with Rogers Communications, the largest cable provider in Canada, where Rogers will distribute Raw and Smackdown along with offering the WWE Network as a subscription-based channel.