×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

WWE Models TV Network Plan After NFL’s Approach

Plans have shifted to launch the network this fall

For the past two years, WWE has worked toward the goal of launching its own TV network: Thousands of hours of TV episodes and pay-per-view events from its vast library have been digitized, staff has been hired, and a Twitter feed has some 94,000 followers. Part of the $40 million already spent has gone to original series, including a “Big Brother”-like reality show featuring WWE legends.

(From the pages of the April 9 issue of Variety.)

What’s still missing is a launch date. With carriers clamping down on the costs of basic cable and satellite channels (and the per-subscriber fees they’re willing to pay to channels on that tier), plans have shifted to launch the WWE Network this fall as a premium pay-TV outlet, akin to the NFL Network, which airs live games and vintage programming from a vast library. WWE Network will share its revenues with carriers, and executives believe it will need just 1 million subscribers to break even. Given that WWE already produces 12 pay-per-view events per year, priced as high as $60 each, and that it generated more than 4 million buys for those events, the wisdom is that fans will pay $15-per-month to subscribe.

SEE ALSO: WWE’s Promo Mania

The network will be the home of most of WWE’s current PPV events, except for its biggest, WrestleMania, which will remain a per-view buy, though in a recent call with analysts, WWE’s chief financial officer George Barrios said he thinks that eventually, “pay-per-view does go away.”

The premium model looks especially attractive in overseas territories like Canada and Mexico. During the company’s fourth quarter earnings call in February, company topper Vince McMahon extolled the virtues of an international approach.

“Although we did not announce the launch of a domestic television network during the year, we believe, now more than ever, that we can realize the full value of our intellectual property using a variety of approaches in our global markets,” McMahon said. “Our confidence is based on the rising value of content and the tremendous global appeal of our brands.”

SEE ALSO: WWE Film Slate Shows a Softer Side

WWE plans to continue to air its current shows on USA, Syfy, Ion and the CW, and not pull its current lineup from those channels. The addition of shows, even on lower-proile nets like CW and Ion, expanded WWE’s overall TV reach by 35%.

“We started on (basic tier) TV,” said Michelle Wilson, chief marketing officer of WWE. “It’s where our bread is buttered.”

More Biz

  • Woodstock 50 Festival Postpones Ticket On-Sale

    Woodstock 50 Festival Postpones Ticket On-Sale Date

    The troubled Woodstock 50 festival has run into more difficulties, as multiple sources told Variety late Friday that the April 22 on-sale date for the event has been postponed. Agents for artists scheduled to perform at the festival — which include Jay-Z, Dead & Company, Chance the Rapper, Miley Cyrus, Imagine Dragons and Halsey — [...]

  • National Enquirer - Jeff Bezos

    Hudson Media CEO James Cohen Purchases the National Enquirer

    Hudson Media’s CEO James Cohen announced Thursday that he will purchase the National Enquirer as well as American Media’s other tabloids, the Globe and the National Examiner. With the purchase of the National Enquirer, which Cohen reportedly bought for $100 million, he plans to strengthen their collaborative efforts, documentary shows, weekly podcasts, and theme parks. [...]

  • Amazon

    Amazon Music’s Free Tier Is More Advertising Play Than Spotify Killer, Analysts Say

    When news began to spread last week that Amazon Music’s long-anticipated free streaming tier was imminent, headlines emerged about its threat to Spotify and Apple Music, with some stories saying that Spotify’s stock price dropped in response to the news. But not only was today’s launch of the free tier basically a soft one — [...]

  • Nicki MinajCFDA Vogue Fashion Fund Dinner,

    Nicki Minaj Parts Ways With Longtime Managers (EXCLUSIVE)

    Nicki Minaj has parted ways with Gee Roberson and Cortez Bryant and Blueprint/ Maverick Management, a source close to the situation confirms to Variety. She had worked with the pair for the majority of her career. The source says the decision was mutual and amicable, and there was no specific reason for the split, adding [...]

  • Amazon

    Amazon Music Launches Free Streaming Tier, Through Alexa Only (for Now)

    Amazon Music today basically soft-launched its free streaming tier, in which U.S. customers of its Alexa voice assistant will have access to top Amazon Music playlists and thousands of stations, at no cost. The limited access that the new free service provides — it’s only available through Alexa, and when the listener requests a song, [...]

  • Donald Glover and Adidas Launch Short

    Donald Glover and Adidas Launch Partnership With New Shoes and Short Films (Watch)

    Donald Glover and Adidas Originals today announced Donald Glover Presents, a creative partnership that unveiled a new line of shoes and a series of brief — and very funny — films to accompany them. (Watch them below.) Donald Glover Presents reimagines threeAadidas styles, the Nizza, the Continental 80, and the Lacombe. The shoes feature uneven [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content