WWE Network Grows to 731,000 Subscribers, Drops Contract Requirement

WWE is dropping the six month contact requirement to sign up for its WWE Network as part of an effort to attract more subscribers, the company said Thursday.

The streaming service added 31,000 paying subscribers during the third quarter, with 28,000 of those signing up overseas. Another 3,000 were in the U.S. WWE has said it aims for 1 million subscribers by the end of the year.

The network became available in more than 170 countries on Aug. 12, when it also introduced a $12.99 plan which had 23,000 subs signing up with the ability to cancel anytime.

The network will become available in the U.K., one of WWE’s top markets, in November.

To get more people to sample the network, new subscribers who sign up will receive the network for free starting Nov. 1, giving them access to upcoming pay-per-view “Survivor Series,” on Nov. 23

The price to subscribe will remain at $9.99 per month, but viewers will now be able to cancel the service at any time.

WWE Network, a streaming service available on mobile devices, smart TVs, set top boxes and video game consoles, launched in February and offers WWE’s PPVs, as well as original programming and access to it vast library of shows. It has started to add a limited number of advertisers to the service on Oct. 13, starting with Pepsi, Mattel, K-Mart, Take-Two Interactive, and Pure Talk USA as the network’s initial sponsors.

The launch of the network has taken an expected hit on PPV buys, which were down 56% during the third quarter, with three events earning $3.7 million from 294,000 purchases through cable and satellite providers.

Close to 90% of its subscribers access WWE Network at least once per week and 99% do so at least once per month, WWE said.

“We are excited to offer new WWE Network subscribers the month of November free to experience all of our live programming, explore thousands of hours of video-on-demand content, and watch ‘Survivor Series,’ one of our most popular events,” said Michelle Wilson, WWE chief revenue and marketing officer. “Our research combined with best practices in digital subscription businesses affirms our belief that a simple, single price plan will help us continue to grow WWE Network’s subscriber base.”

WWE reported third quarter results on Thursday, with the company posting a new loss of $5.9 million, compared to a $2.4 million profit in the same period a year ago. Revenue came in  6% higher to $120.2 million.

The WWE Network boosted network segment revenue by 68% from last year’s quarter and 26% year-to-date.

“During the quarter, we delivered stronger financial performance than anticipated and surpassed our guidance while making significant progress on the execution of our WWE Network strategy,” said Vince McMahon, chairman and CEO. “To capitalize on the substantial opportunity created by WWE Network, its time to remove all the barriers to those that want WWE. We are excited to introduce a new simplified price plan at $9.99 per month, and like Netflix with no commitment to cancel anytime. This reflects our belief in the broad appeal of WWE Network content. Additionally, we continue to develop the international platform for WWE Network and plan to make the network available in the U.K. on an OTT basis in November. WWE Network continues to be the single greatest opportunity to transform WWEs business model and we remain optimistic about our potential to drive long-term growth.”

Ratings for “Raw” and “SmackDown” rose 2% and 3%, respectively, during the quarter that ended Sept. 30. Seven new distribution deals for the company’s shows are expected to increase from approximately $130 million in 2014 to around $235 million in 2018.

Its film arm, WWE Studios, saw revenue increase to $1.9 million from $1.8 million mostly from its 2013 releases. The company’s more focused film strategy helped narrow losses to $400,000 during the quarter, compared to $7.4 million last year.

Meanwhile, the company’s videogames boosted licensing revenue to $10 million from $5.7 million during the quarter, helping the consumer products arm increase sales to $18.5 million from $12.6 million.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • AT&T TV

    AT&T TV: An Unskinny Streaming Bundle That Looks a Lot Like Traditional Pay TV

    AT&T this week launched AT&T TV, a new subscription streaming television service that uses an Android-based internet set-top, in 10 markets. But the way it’s priced and packaged looks very similar to cable and satellite TV services — in other words, AT&T TV isn’t targeted at the cord-cutter crowd. It’s basically designed as a way [...]

  • Sofia Wylie arrives at Variety's Power

    Disney Channel Enlists Duplass Brothers for YouTube Hip-Hop Dance Series Starring Sofia Wylie

    Disney Channel’s first original scripted series made exclusively for release on YouTube is “Shook,” a hip-hop dance short-form series starring Sofia Wylie, produced by Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass. “Shook” will debut Saturday, Sept. 28, on Disney Channel’s YouTube channel. The scripted single-camera show centers on 15-year-old Mia (Wylie), who yearns to dance professionally but [...]

  • YouTube logo

    YouTube Is Getting Rid of Messaging Feature

    YouTube is killing off a feature that allowed users to share videos and other messages with each other. YouTube Messages, which was first introduced in January of 2017, will be turned off by September 18, the company announced this week. “We’re constantly reevaluating our priorities and have decided to discontinue YouTube’s native direct messaging feature [...]

  • Yara Shahidi

    Audible Teams Up With Big Names as Audio-Only Storytelling Expands

    Hobnobbing with the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Kate McKinnon and Yara Shahidi isn’t typically the gloss applied to the cerebral audiobook set, but Audible is putting the humble audio story through its own movie-makeover montage, inking high-profile development deals with entertainment names like “The Walking Dead” comics creator Skybound Entertainment, Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and Lorne [...]

  • Geneva Wasserman

    Condé Nast Taps Film Veteran Geneva Wasserman as SVP of Motion Pictures

    Condé Nast Entertainment hired Geneva Wasserman as senior vice president of motion pictures, overseeing development of the media company’s slate of feature film properties. Wasserman, a nearly 20-year veteran of the entertainment industry, most recently served as co-founder and executive producer of production firm Project Z Entertainment. She takes over the role at CNE after [...]

  • A view of the SK Telecom

    Korean Regulators Approve Four-Way Streaming Merger

    South Korean regulators have approved the merger of the video services of three local broadcasters and SK Telecom’s streaming app Oksusu. The new service, operating under the name Wavve will launch in September and be Korea’s largest. Proposed in January as a measure to combat the incursion of international video players, the deal was given [...]

  • siriusxm on playstation

    SiriusXM Announces $4 Streaming Plan for Students

    SiriusXM took another step towards taking its subscription service past the car Tuesday: The company announced a new student subscription tier that gives eligible college students access to music and talk radio stations on their mobile and connected devices for $4 per month. Some of the content available for this price includes SiriusXM’s more than [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content