Los Angeles Times examines WWE Network’s difficulties
Sep 10, 2012 - by Steve Gerweck
LAtimes.com posted the following article…
Are there enough John Cena and Triple H fans to justify the launch of a WWE pay cable channel?
That’s what WWE Chairman Vince McMahon and the rest of the executive team are going to be wrestling with for the next few months.
More than three years ago, McMahon unveiled plans to create a WWE cable channel that would capitalize on the company’s vast library as well as feature new programming. But since then there have been lots of fits and starts and delays but no channel and little about it coming out of the WWE. Wall Street is eager to see movement because WWE has been telling investors it thinks having its own distribution platform could be a game changer for the company.
“You guys need to say more than you have,” an exasperated Brad Safalow, an analyst with PAA Research, said on the WWE’s second-quarter-earnings call last month. McMahon promised more clarity on the company’s next earnings call. So far, WWE has spent about $40 million developing a programming service, according to its financial filings.
The reason WWE is being cagey is that it is still not sure what kind of channel it will launch. Originally, WWE wanted to build a broadly distributed commercial channel with hopes of getting a subscription fee in the neighborhood of 20 cents per month per subscriber.
However, not only is space tight on most cable and satellite systems, there were concerns about the amount of WWE content already available limiting the growth potential of a stand-alone commercial network. WWE has shows on the USA and Syfy cable channels and a new program for the ION broadcast network. It is also producing a kids show for the CW Network.
“Clearly the cable operators didn’t view what they brought to market as compelling enough,” said Safalow in an interview.
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