The first significant shot between cable and satellite providers and WWE has been launched prior to Monday's launch of WWE Network. In a statement, Dish Network confirmed that they would be dropping WWE pay-per-views events, starting with Sunday's Elimination Chamber broadcast.
"WWE has chosen to launch a 24/7 online network, without its TV partners, that includes all of its pay-per-view events. As WWE enters the increasingly fragmented media world by themselves, DISH will continue to consider the value of WWE pay-per-view on an event by event basis.
"DISH continues to provide a variety of WWE programming, including 'WWE Raw' on USA, 'WWE Smackdown' on Syfy, 'WWE Main Event' on Ion and 'WWE Total Divas" on E!. At this time, WWE pay-per-view events are not available on DISH."
So in other words, Dish is so irritated at the WWE Network offering every pay-per-view live (along with access to WWE's monstrous library of live events) for $9.99 a month that they are willing to completely forego their cut of any PPV revenue generated by WWE PPVs sold on Dish. That… doesn't seem like a winning strategy to me. Even if the sales for future PPVs decrease, Dish is essentially saying they want no pie at all instead of a piece of a smaller pie.
WWE released a statement on the matter that takes a swipe at Dish like only WWE can.
"WWE is pleased that the majority of our cable and satellite Pay-Per-View distributors are giving our fans an option to purchase traditional Pay-Per-Views as we prepare to launch WWE Network on Monday, February 24. Unfortunately, DISH will not be doing so. We hope DISH will reconsider for this Sunday's 'Elimination Chamber' Pay-Per-View event and especially for 'WrestleMania 30'."
In case you don't know too much about WWE's business, WrestleMania is their money-maker PPV every year. The last three events have drawn over one million buys, and last year's event cost a whopping $69.95 in HD. WrestleMania XXIX grossed $72 million and drew over 80,000 attendees at MetLife Stadium, slightly less than the over 82,000 attendees at this year's Super Bowl. Think about that – one pay per view, $72 million, and Dish is trying to play hardball a month and a half before that show takes place?
While WWE Network could end up being a game-changer, it's not there yet. If you're a Dish customer and a WWE fan, and you don't have access to an Internet connection fast enough to stream live video, I'd imagine you're pretty irritated at Dish cutting off your chance to watch this weekend's PPV and possibly other future shows. But really, that's par for the course with Dish – they threatened to pull ESPN last fall, played hardball with Fox Sports 1 before Fox caved, pulled BTN at the beginning of the 2012 college football season, and dropped AMC for four months in 2012. I'm surprised they have any customers left at this point – their main goal seems to be pissing customers off.