3 On Feb. 24, TV got an influx of spandex briefs. That’s when the new pro-wrestling WWE Network launched, providing subscribers with as many body slams as they can handle. For $9.99 a month, fans have access to a 24-hour stream of scheduled programming, as well as thousands of hours of archival footage via an app that’s available on Roku, iOS and Android devices, Kindle Fire, and game consoles. “We had the opportunity to launch a linear network with cable and satellite providers,” says WWE’s chief revenue and marketing officer, Michelle Wilson. “With this model, we’re in control.”
One new network-exclusive endeavor is the reality series Legends’ House (think The Real World, but with WWE vets such as “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan living in a house). But the big draw will be the pay-per-views: Beginning with WrestleMania 30 on April 6, every one of the company’s 12 annual events will be broadcast on the network at no additional charge to subscribers.
Wilson says the goal for this year is to get to one million subscribers, the base that represents their pay-per-view break-even point. “Over time, we could get to 2 to 4 million subscribers, and at that level, it transforms the economics of WWE,” she says. If the fans vote with their money, expect more companies to copy the WWE’s model — or try to steal “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.