The WWE wants its network to hit 1 million subscribers by the end of this year, but after the disclosure of some recent data, it looks as though the only way that's going to happen is if the company makes it accessible on more streaming platforms and to countries as soon as possible.
Before we dig into why this has to happen, let's take a look at the data that has been revealed recently for more insight.
WWE announced Tuesday that WrestleMania 30 reached a record 1 million households in the United States through both the WWE Network and traditional pay-per-views purchases.
On the surface that sounds like an astounding statistic, but let's break down the numbers.
WWE announced April 7 that the WWE Network had approximately 667,287 subscribers as of that day.
In the United States alone, WrestleMania 30 garnered "nearly 400,000" pay-per-view buys. When you add more than 600,000 subscribers to the network with the nearly 400,000 pay-per-view buys domestically, you get WrestleMania 30 in more than 1 million households.
Now, let's qualify those numbers. The number 667,287 subscribers to the WWE Network does not account for how many people actually watched WrestleMania 30 via the network. It simply accounts for how many people happen to have a subscription by that point.
Of the more than 75,000 who watched WrestleMania live and in person in New Orleans, you have to believe a portion of them had subscriptions to the network and obviously didn't use it on that particular day. I was one of them. My view from the press box at the top of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome was much better than what the WWE Network could have provided.
Now to the 400,000 domestic buys. That number is down from last year when 650,000 people in the United States ordered WrestleMania 29, but there wasn't a WWE Network back then. The nearly 400,000 people that ordered WrestleMania 30 is actually a pretty high number considering that people in this country had access to a much cheaper option than shelling out $65 to their cable or satellite provider. That's still more than what most WWE pay-per-views garner on a regular basis. You have to believe the final number of buys will be pretty impressive once the international purchases are counted up.
We have to take all of this information into account when projecting out the rest of the year for the WWE Network. The WWE made it clear that it needed the network to reach 1 million subscribers by the end of 2014 in order to break even on the endeavor.
With 667,287 in about 50 days, WWE seems to be on the right track. But the company could also run into a couple of roadblocks along the way.
One of the biggest hooks in subscribing to the WWE Network when it was opened up to the American public back on Feb. 24 was the WrestleMania 30 was apart of your six-month subscription. My guess is that WrestleMania 30 being the proverbial carrot dangled in front of the fans had a lot to do with getting to that number. I also imagine that there were a lot of last-minute purchases.
The problem is moving forward. There is no WrestleMania coming up to hook people again and WWE has less than eight months to gain a little more than 300,000 more subscribers. The other programming the WWE Network has to offer is great, in my opinion, but I'm not so sure Legends' House is going to sway someone's mind as to whether they should order the network or not.
Unless Summerslam boasts a mega main event, the best thing the WWE has going for it in this case is the fact that it has a lot of time because the company is more than likely not going to break the 1 million mark off of domestic subscribers alone.
The solution: open the network up to more platforms and more countries before the end of the year. The WWE Network still isn't available on the Xbox One yet, nor is it on Samsung SmartTv.
Not to mention, the network is still only available in the United States. Given the number of ways I've seen online of people from outside of the United States work their way around the geographical lock on the network, I'd say there are a lot of potential international subscribers.
When the WWE first unveiled the network, it said that it hoped to have the network available in other countries by the end of this and possibly by the beginning of 2015. The company may not have a choice to make it available to other countries by at least the fall, so it could crack that coveted 1 million-subscriber mark.
If not, the WWE will have a lot of explaining to do to its stockholders.