It’s been one thing after another for the WWE in recent months. A seemingly-neverending slew of injuries to stars such as John Cena, Seth Rollins, Sting, Cesaro and many more. The retirement of fan-favorite Daniel Bryan. The apparent unwillingness for many to get behind anointed-star Roman Reigns. Sagging ratings for their primetime programs.
There are a lot of reasons for WWE’s numbers to be down right now. Big picture, the company doesn’t seem to be feeling the effects. WWE says it generated $658.8 million in revenue in 2015, a 21 percent increase from the previous year and the highest in company history. If there is one place where all of these issues are starting to add up, however, it’s with WWE Network, which ended the year with 1.22 million paid subscribers and averaged 1.24 million throughout the fourth quarter.
That subscriber number is stagnant when compared to the final third quarter count (1.233M). It also remains to be seen how many subscribers stick around post-Wrestlemania as well. The company saw a dip in subscribers following their major annual event. WWE has a tall task ahead in maintaining viewership and subscriptions given all of the aforementioned reasons but Vince McMahon remains optimistic about the company’s ability to do so.
“By being creative. We’ll have an awesome WrestleMania. It’ll be very attractive to our audience, just as attractive as last year.”
The network weathered the storm of low subscription rates in its first year but survived the #CancelWWENetwork movement along with some other valuable lessons to find a balance. Now comes the hard part of growing the network to the next level.
WWE Network is still generating tons of valuable content as subscribers watched it for an estimated average of 188 hours per household. Between more than 85 hours of original content, pay-per-view events, NXT broadcasts and its vast library, the issue isn’t what they’re offering but simply how interested audiences are in the product.
WWE is bullish on how incentivized audiences will be headed into Wrestlemania on April 3. They’re projecting to get approximately 1.28M subscribers, which would a 30 percent YOY increase), by the time that event rolls around. Based on recent history, they’ve got their work cut out for them.