WWE Network Needs To Listen To Its Fans Or It Will Get Worse

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Since its launch in the United States in 2014, the WWE Network has been both a blessing and a curse for the WWE. The first wrestling entertainment streaming service, the network started with much fanfare as the WWE touted having every single wrestling pay-per-view in history, including those from WCW and ECW. The service also promised to show every pay-per-view offering every month on the WWE Network, which for fans meant a flat $9.99 monthly fee as opposed to a $50-$60 charge each month for pay-per-views.

While everything I mentioned was a definite selling point for the WWE Network, the company has dropped the ball in different areas. Instead of regular first-run programming exclusive to the network, the WWE insist on showing re-runs of Total Divas. Instead of showing old pay-per-views, they show the same shows over and over, and they are for the most part pay-per-views from the modern era.

Here’s another example of how the WWE Network has dropped the ball. In the early months of the WWE Network, Thursdays were Throwback Thursdays. This day featured old Monday Night Raw and Monday Night Nitro episodes, along with an old pay-per-view from either WWF, WCW and ECW. This day was looked forward to by fans of wrestling who have not been happy with the current product. Instead of building that day into a weekly event, the powers that be decided to do away with it and what we see now is the upcoming schedule for this Thursday, Aug. 17, from the hours of 12:00 p.m.-12 midnight:

12 pm- NXT

1 pm- WWE Music Power 10

1:30 pm- Table for Three

2 pm- WWE Countdown

3 pm- Total Bellas

4 pm- Total Divas

5 pm- The WWE List

5:30 pm- WWE Music Power 10

6 pm- Journey to Summerslam

7 pm- WWE 24

8 pm-Total Bellas

9 pm- Total Divas

10 pm- The WWE List

10:30 pm- The Edge and Christian Show

11:00 pm- Total Bellas

12 am- WWE Music Power 10

On Thursdays, you have three showings of Total Bellas, two showings of Total Divas, three showings of the WWE Music Power 10 and two showings of The WWE List. You have hours of programming on a day when you do not have any shows on live television, and they choose to show the same shows over and over, even during primetime hours. On a day when the WWE should be making the Network destination viewing and draw fans, they instead choose to show the Bellas Twins on reruns of a show that people who subscribe to the WWE Network does not want to see.

Earlier this month, it was reported that the WWE would be cutting back on Network costs. This is due to the Network’s subscribers, which dropped to just 1.63 million, down from the 1.94 million subscribers the company announced right after WrestleMania in April. During the last WWE investor conference call, the company admitted that the subscriber's count could fall to 1.54 million when the third quarter report is released. This news resulted in the cancellation of popular shows such as Talking Smack, Legends with JBL and The Edge and Christian Show. You know, shows people who are paying $9.99 a month wants to see.

The problem is that the company are obsessed with subscriber numbers. They are not interested in building the Network and setting a foundation for it. Early on, there was excitement as they were attempting to find an identity for the WWE Network. Now, it seems that the Network is strictly a vehicle for the WWE’s pay-per-view’s and that is all. The people in charge of the Network have almost lost interest in the long-term viability of the project.

WWE CFO George Barrios claims otherwise. Via PWInsider, Barrios says WWE is getting better at communicating with subscribers, with plans in place to provide new and fun content direct to consumer over the next ten years.

So, “direct to consumer over the next ten years is a big opportunity?” What happens when the consumers disappear because the WWE is not trying to keep satisfied right now? Unfortunately, the subscribers for the WWE Network will continue to fall until the WWE figures out that the people who subscribe to the WWE Network are the hardcore fans, who are not enjoying the current product. The WWE seems to believe that casual fans are ordering the network and by applying that logic and ignoring the loyal long-time followers, it’s no wonder they have yet to hit two million subscribers in the Network’s existence.

The WWE Network serves a purpose and I still pay for my subscription, despite my occasional disgust with the service. At some point, the WWE needs to start thinking about the subscribers who have been on board since day one and stop attempting to change the game and put on programming that no one is watching. If they think 1.54 million subscribers is small, just wait until they learn the numbers will only look smaller in 2018 if they continue on this path.

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