Ever since its debut in 2014, WWE Network has been the home of all the company’s streaming content, including live weekly shows, pay per views, original reality shows and decades of past content. But that could soon be changing.
Despite the fact that it’s the only option for wrestling fans to stream content, the service has struggled to attract subscribers in recent months. WWE Network does have about 1.4 million subscribers at present, but the total number has been declining steadily for some time now. After reaching its peak of just over 2 million active users in late 2018, each quarter has seen progressively fewer and fewer people paying.
And now, it appears that the company might be ready to pull the plug before losses get too bad. Speaking at WWE’s fourth quarter earnings call, interim CFO Frank Riddick the network lost 10% of its base last quarter and that the future wasn’t promising. “Given the evolution of new streaming services and the increasing value of live content,” he said, “we believe there may be alternative strategic options for the WWE Network.”
This echoed the sentiments of company CEO Vince McMahon who said a day earlier that “There’s no more better time to exercise the selling of our rights to all the majors who, quite frankly, all the majors are really clamoring for our content. So that could be a significant increase, obviously, in terms of revenue.” Majors in that context means major streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.
Asked if this included pay per view events, McMahon said nothing was off-limits.
One industry expert predicted Amazon as a likely landing spot for the brand’s content. And beyond that, the company as a whole once the McMahons are done.
Of course, moving content to another platform would mean that the company wouldn’t get the all-important user data on what’s being watched and by who, and McMahon admits that’s important to him. “It [user data] was one of our goals, still continues to be, but when you’re playing with some of the majors, it depends on whether or not we can negotiate holding on to things of that nature.”
If a deal is reached, expect it to be very soon. McMahon said that if a deal with a new provider was reached, it would be announced in the first quarter of 2020.