The WWE Network needs an estimated 1.4 million subscribers to reach breakeven point financially. With the company’s biggest show, Wrestlemania, in the rearview mirror it still sits at 667,000. This combined with an NBC Universal TV deal that was significantly less than what WWE promised investors, caused Vince McMahon to lose a third of his fortune in one day. The fallout was swift, as the company fired nine wrestlers, the head writer of Monday Night Raw and longtime broadcaster Josh Mathews. Word is that original shows Tough Enough and Legends House are shelved indefinitely.
Investors were told the network could have as many as 2 million subscribers by year’s end, a number it’s nowhere close to hitting. So WWE is offering a free trial similar to what it did at launch. This time, you’re not even required to give your credit card information. This is a crucial time because the initial group of six-month subscriptions expires in August. The free trial runs until midnight July 14.
The week trial includes the debut of Saturday Night’s Main Event on the network. This hit show offered up pay-per-view quality matches on NBC, replacing Saturday Night Live for a week and sometimes drawing better ratings. The first batch is classic 80s Hulkamania, featuring a World Title defense against “Cowboy” Bob Orton with Mr. T and Roddy Piper in tow and a tag team match pitting Hogan and Andre The Giant against King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd.
For those who opt to stick around, August will bring the debut of the 20-episode series the Monday Night War. It chronicles the battle for ratings supremacy between the WWE and WCW, powered by the considerable bank account of Ted Turner. This fight changed wrestling forever, and paved the way for the E’s current entertainment aspirations.