The company’s been talking for years about creating a network, but failed to excite cable and satellite distributors. So it now says it will make its WWE Network happen online as a subscription service that will cost $9.99 a month with a six-month commitment. Powered by MLB Advanced Media, the WWE programming will be available on conventional computers, and apps for Apple and Android devices, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and 4, and Roku — with Xbox One and some Smart TVs following this summer. Customers will be able to watch 12 monthly pay-per-view specials, 1,500 hours of shows from WWE’s library, and several new programs. The network “allows us to transform and reimagine how we deliver our premium live content and 24/7 programming directly to our fans around the world,” CEO Vince McMahon says. “WWE Network will provide transformative growth for our company and unprecedented value for our fans.” The company anticipates as many as 3M subscribers ”based on extensive consumer research and the value proposition for a network that reflects the inclusion of our pay-per-view events, including WrestleMania” and other programming. The company says that about 53% of TV households “have an affinity for WWE content.” If it’s estimate is correct, then it could help WWE generate as much as $350M in additional revenue and “incremental OIBDA [cash flow] between $50 million and $150 million at a ‘steady state.’” Benchmark analyst Mike Hickey is more cautious, saying that by charging $9.99 a month for PPV specials that cost $44.95 “will cut into WWE’s revenue in the short term” although the company could “make it up over time as the network’s subscriber base increases.” WWE shares have appreciated nearly 52% over the last three months, and are up about 1% today.
In addition to the PPV specials, the network will offer live pre- and post-shows, The Monday Night War (a series about WWE’s fight in the mid-1990s with Ted Turner’s WCW), WrestleMania Rewind (a look back at “groundbreaking matches and dramatic moments”), WWE Countdown (viewers interact with WWE stars), WWE Legends House (a reality show with former stars), WWE NXT (rising stars and divas “face off” each week), and WWE Superstars (an hour-long weekly highlights show).