×

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

  • Katie Couric Sheryl Sandberg

    Katie Couric Steamrolls Sheryl Sandberg in Roving Vanity Fair Summit Interview

    Sending a jolt through a luxurious and excessively polite afternoon in Beverly Hills, veteran journalist Katie Couric delivered a relentless series of hardball questions to Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg on Tuesday. Speaking in conversation at the sixth annual Vanity Fair New Establishment summit at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Couric’s [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Judge Refuses to Dismiss Chicago's Lawsuit Against Jussie Smollett

    A federal judge on Tuesday refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the City of Chicago, which is seeking to recoup investigative costs from former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett. Judge Virginia M. Kendall rejected Smollett’s contention that he should not be made to pay $130,000 in police overtime costs, plus $260,000 in damages, because he [...]

  • It Is 'Unlikely’ That PledgeMusic Artists

    It Is 'Unlikely’ That PledgeMusic Artists and Creditors Will Be Paid, Receiver Says

    PledgeMusic, the direct-to-fan marketplace that went out of business earlier this year, was more than $7.4 million in debt when it entered liquidation, and its receiver says it is “unlikely” that artists and others owed money by the company will be paid, according to a report from the bank-appointed receiver. “I do not anticipate that [...]

  • Lori Loughlin

    Lori Loughlin Charged With Bribery in College Admissions Case

    Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, were indicted on a charge of conspiring to commit federal programs bribery on Tuesday, in connection with allegations that they paid $500,000 to get their daughters into the University of Southern California. Loughlin and Giannulli already faced charges of conspiring to commit mail fraud and money [...]

  • Gary Newman

    Fox TV Group Alum Gary Newman Joins Attention Capital as Executive Partner

    Former Fox TV Group chairman Gary Newman has joined Attention Capital, the startup venture launched earlier this year by another Fox alumnus, Joe Marchese. Newman and another media biz veteran, Lisa Gersh, were named Tuesday as executive partners of Attention Capital. Newman will focus on acquisition and investment opportunities. Marchese, who previously headed advertising sales [...]

  • Clio-Brand-Storytelling-Award

    Clio Awards, Brand Storytelling Team to Launch 'Storytelling for Good' Award

    Clio, the international advertising awards competition, announced Clio Brand Storytelling, a new program in partnership with Brand Storytelling, a media company exclusively built to support and inspire investment in the practice of brand-funded content. The inaugural Storytelling for Good Award will celebrate branded entertainment and content that promotes or creates awareness for a cause, foundation, [...]

  • Matt Lauer Kurt Sutter

    From Sutter to Lauer, Hollywood Sees a Flurry of Letters From the Edge (Column)

    Let’s talk about the whacked-out letters that hit the media sphere in the past eight days. One was that bizarre mea culpa dropped Oct. 17 by the no-holds-barred showrunner Kurt Sutter in response to getting canned from his series “Mayans MC.” No stranger to complaints of unprofessional behavior on his sets over the years, Sutter [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content