WrestleZone reports that the proposed WWE Network hasn’t gone according to plan. There are no cable deals in place, and WWE’s plan to make the network a premium channel hasn’t even enticed diehard wrestling fans. WWE surveys have shown less than 100,000 would pay a monthly fee for a 24/7 WWE channel. I’m one of those diehard fans, and I wouldn’t do it.
The WWE Network launch has already been delayed a couple of times. The latest target date was February 2013. With no real infrastructure in place and tepid interest even among its target demographic, that would be difficult. WWE CEO Vince McMahon has plans to make the wrestling promotion a full-fledged entertainment company. The WWE Network would have been another step in that strategy.
McMahon has developed a near monopoly on professional wrestling because he has a lot of great ideas. We wouldn’t have had Wrestlemania or Hulk Hogan without his vision. McMahon’s had some horribly bad ideas too. The XFL and World Bodybuilding Federation come immediately to mind. Sadly, the WWE Network had more in common with the XFL than Wrestlemania.
WWE’s wrestling shows are still a reliable, remarkably consistent source of ratings for USA and Syfy. Overall though, pro wrestling’s popularity isn’t where it was during the 1990s. Even during the heat of the Monday Night Wars, wrestling’s last boom in pop culture standing, I wouldn’t have paid a monthly fee for 24/7 WWE access. It’s a good idea for WWE to “tap out” as far as this thing is concerned.