The WWE Network is fun, appealing and a good value. However, WWE really jumped the gun by launching pay-per-view events as a part of the Network. WWE hoped to reach about 1 to 1.2 million subscribers before the end of the year. While there was a nice influx of subscribers to the Network prior to WrestleMania 30, that number of subscribers has fallen over a cliff. Now the Network only has about 700,000 subscribers — way below the target WWE was hoping to hit by this point.
WWE clearly bit off more than they could chew with this gamble. A probable goal here was to make up for the decline in PPV buyrates in recent years. WWE could make up the difference by having fans subscribe to the Network and pay an automatic $10 a month for the PPV events. The problem? Cable and satellite providers for the events did not like this plan.
DISH Network and DirecTV subsequently dropped WWE PPV events as a result of the WWE Network offering the same events for $10 a month. This was a move that the UFC wisely avoided with the launch of UFC Fight Pass. Launching WWE Network with the events right off the bat essentially made WWE cannibalize its own PPV business. Now the WWE is suffering from this choice by losing millions and having to cut down its workforce. In recent weeks, many longtime employees have been let go by the WWE.
Of course, the WWE Network providing the events is a major selling point and attraction for subscribers. However, WWE would have been wise to hold off offering the monthly PPV events with the Network. Clearly, WWE Network is the future of the business, but it was a move WWE should have made more gradually rather than in one big jump.