WWE Network has had its share of ups and downs over its first year existence, but it may have hit rock bottom on Sunday night after the Royal Rumble event. Pro wrestling fans were so upset with the proceedings that the hashtag #CancelWWENetwork was trending worldwide. That’s right, wrestling fans were encouraging one another to cancel their monthly subscription over their mounting frustration with the current product. That doesn’t seem like a good way to sustain an already risky business venture.
#CancelWWENetwork trending #1 Worldwide. Yikes that's not good for buisness. Thats not good for anybody
— Tommy Dreamer (@THETOMMYDREAMER) January 26, 2015
— Danruto (@Danruto) January 26, 2015
If Season 4 of Breaking Bad started with the worst episode ever and repeated that episode 12 times, you'd stop watching. #CancelWWENetwork
— Andre Bennett (@frankiethirteen) January 26, 2015
— Eric Williams (@TheEricWilliams) January 26, 2015
Just how bad was it for WWE? As the #CancelWWENetwork hashtag was trending worldwide, many wrestling fans put their money where their tweets were and canceled their subscription to the network. As you might recall, WWE removed the six month commitment for subscribers and made the network available on a monthly $9.99 basis. That plan seems to have backfired in a major way as the WWE Network cancellation page crashing due to the heavy traffic and so many people wanting to dump their $9.99 monthly subscription after the Rumble. Eep.
— Steven Pope (@the1truepope) January 26, 2015
The WWE Network Cancellation page has crashed, lmao. Welp.
— DX (@DXFromYT) January 26, 2015
So the WWE Network cancel page has crashed. ololol GREAT SHOW, GUYS!!! #RoyalRumble
— Xander Squared (@xandertheblue) January 26, 2015
Fans rejected the result of the Royal Rumble as would-be hero and winner Roman Reigns was booed out of the building in Philly. Even a surprise appearance from The Rock to try to shield Reigns from the cascading boos didn’t work. Not to dive too deep into WWE storylines (this really isn’t the place to do that) but Reigns has been shot to the moon as the chosen one to main event WrestleMania against WWE champ and former UFC champ Brock Lesnar and fans aren’t buying in to it and making their displeasure known. Ironically enough, Reigns was in the exact opposite position at the same event last year as the fans’ choice instead of who WWE really wanted them to cheer, Batista. It didn’t help that ultimate fan favorite Daniel Bryan was surprisingly eliminated midway through this year’s event after returning from a career-threatening injury.
It seems that last night’s Royal Rumble was the culmination of months of dissatisfaction from WWE’s core fanbase as the product has become too stale and predictable.
Worst of all, this is terrible news for WWE Network at a time they need it the least. Subscriptions are well short of the 1 million break-even point necessary and that news, along with WWE’s new television contract falling short of industry expectations, has sent their stock price cratering. Depending on how many subscribers did cancel their network subscription, it’s not out of the question to wonder whether or not it might just be a fatal blow to the WWE Network.
WWE Network was a ground-breaking concept in the areas of sports and entertainment when it launched last year. The company scrapped their old pay-per-view business model and opened up their entire library to fans by going all-in for an over-the-top streaming service. One can’t blame WWE for being forward thinking and trying something revolutionary that may turn out to be a preferred business model for other sports and entertainment companies 10-15 years down the road. But in order for it to be a success now, WWE better start listening to their fans. Otherwise, WWE Network might go the way of the XFL.