WWE announces international expansion, change in price point for WWE Network

This graphic released by the WWE shows the logo for the new WWE network. The WWE Network launches Feb. 24, 2014 as a streaming service for $9.99 per month with a six-month commitment and will include all 12 pay-per-view events. (AP Photo/WWE)

The WWE gave some big updates when it pertains to the WWE network during its quarterly conference call Thursday.

Here are some of the major highlights of information that the WWE revealed:

- The WWE announced that the WWE Network had nearly 700,000 paying subscribers at the time of June 30 That’s an increase of 161,000 from the number the WWE announced back on April 6 (667,287). However, according to Variety.com, the net increase is only 33,000, as the network lost 128,000 subscribers during that period.

- On one hand, the 700,000 could be a disappointing figure, as the company hopes to hit 1 million by the end of the year, but Variety notes that reaching that number in less than six months is an achievement in it of itself.

“While WWE has been criticized for not being able to grow past 700,000 so far, just getting to that number is considered a feat by others, given the short amount of time the WWE Network has been available, and the churn rate subscription-based channels must typically contend with.”

“Just as pay cablers like HBO see subscriptions rise and fall depending on when content is available, WWE has seen a similar effect around its live PPVs, considered the biggest draw on the to the network so far among the mostly 18-34-year old men who make up most of its demo, a sweet spot for advertisers.”

- To help reach the 1 million subscriber mark by the end of 2014, the WWE announced during the call that it will expand the network internationally. The biggest part of that expansion is a 10-year agreement between the WWE and Rogers Communications in Canada. Per the agreement, Rogers, Canada’s largest cable operator, will distribute Raw and Smackdown, but will also “offer the WWE Network as a subscription-based channel similar to HBO,” according to Variety.

“It was an offer that we couldn’t turn down, WWE CEO Vince McMahon said during the call via PWTorch. “Don’t see it happening anywhere else in the world, but it could.”

Similar agreements will be made in India, China, Germany, Thailand, Malaysia and areas of the Middle East, according to Variety.

Perhaps the most notable change in strategy is the change in price point. People can still subscribe to the network for $9.99 per month with the six-month commitment, but must pay for the six months up front. For those who wish to pay month-by-month, the price has been doubled to $19.99 per month. The price points will be the same internationally as well, according to PWTorch.com.

- The WWE Network was expected to hurt the company’s traditional pay-per-view business and those numbers were revealed Thursday. Extreme Rules in May generated 108,000 pay-per-view buys, down from 231,000 in 2013. Payback in June garnered only 67,000, down from 186,000 in 2013. Money in Bank gained only 122,000. Overall, WWE saw its pay-per-view revenue decline 39 percent during the second quarter. But the WWE Network did generate $19.4 million and helped increase revenue in the North America by 3 percent.

[h/t to Variety.com and PWTorch.com]