Considered one of the boldest moves in sports entertainment, the WWE launched their online streaming service the WWE Network a year ago. With much uncertainty around the service many naysayers didn’t give the channel much of a chance.
But it takes a brave person to question Vince McMahon’s business acumen. Let’s face it; he’s proved the wrestling community wrong on numerous occasions with his various innovations. When the Network launched in 2014 it originally forecasted targets of 1 million subscribers to the $9.99 monthly service but it fell woefully short in the first two quarters, which subsequently meant that the WWE’s share prices also fell dramatically. There was also talk that company had incurred huge losses because of the outlay the WWE made to put this service in place.
However, like all visions that McMahon and the major players in WWE have, things are never done with just the short-term in mind. McMahon launched this service with longevity in mind and to help the WWE keep ahead of its competitors. You only have to look at the UFC, which launched its Fight Pass service months after to see how the company keeps ahead of the veritable curve.
On live television, Vince declared on SmackDown, January 29, 2015 that the company had finally reached their forecasted target. They had successfully obtained 1 million subscribers to the WWE Network.
To celebrate this monumental achievement the WWE is offering free subscription for the month of February to entice further customers to this revolutionary service.
But what are the other variables that have helped the WWE Network prosper in an already competitive landscape? Aside from its myriad of content, and its large budgets, the ability to access all the video and content on smartphones and gadgets has seen the Network become the go-to resource for over 1 million wrestling fans over the last 12 months.
Of course, the addition of many of the previous pay-per-view events to the service has helped draw in many WWE fans but its flexibility is the real key to its success. Because everything can be accessed via mobile, consumers see this as an efficient way to view and consume content. With the service benefiting from the increased number of consumers using smartphones according to EMarketer. The Internet penetration has also increased to these gadgets with the makers of successful portal BubbleBonusBingo claiming that 17% of the world can now access the Internet via their smartphones.
All this points to a more digital future, where subscribers will want content readily accessible via a myriad of different platforms. And this is fundamentally why the WWE Network is seen as the trailblazer in the sports entertainment landscape.
Although the company is yet to release its forecast for the next 12 months, with the continued increase in Internet penetration, smartphone usage and improvements with the Network, experts are predicting that WWE will look to hit 1.5 million subscribers by 2016.