• By Anthony Cox, Kayfabe Kickout Senior Columnist

The Network Safety Net!

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

A few weeks back, my friend of mine was complaining about the fact that WWE Network has commercials during their Pay-Per-Views. I let him know that they were prepping us as wrestling fans. For what? For the time that everything WWE related is shown exclusively on the network. Now do I think that is going to happen anytime soon? Probably not, but I can definitely see it happening within the next 5-10 years. It will hinge on if the US wants to continue to pay for the rights of a show that seems to lose viewership each and every year. Now before you speak that fanboy gibberish saying that ratings don’t matter, just remember that shows continue to be canceled all across TV due to low ratings. STAHP IT!

Outside of WWE, you will see that professional wrestling is a hard sell to networks these days. It can be argued that WCW losing a ton of money before it took its dirt nap turned off a lot of major networks. This is the reason why Jeff Jarrett chose to move to the weekly PPV model during the embryonic stages of TNA Wrestling when he first set it up. As we know, that company now exists as Global Force Wrestling, and they are currently on a network that I used to stare at as a teenager to find of out the next time that Cinemax was showing Hotline with Tanya Roberts. Ah, the days before cable providers had guides built into their receivers! ROH is lucky to currently be owned by a network that almost assures that it will always have a home.

WWE has a major presence online through Hulu, YouTube, and their website, but that money from viewership there is nowhere near what it is from television. Having a great online presence is great, but television is still the bread and butter for WWE. Now some will argue that more people are watching WWE now than ever. They will talk about streaming services and DVRs, but won’t talk about how those claims cannot be backed up by something like house show attendance which is lower now than it was even 5 years ago. If people were truly still interested like they were in 1997, people would attend shows every chance they can get. They would also want to watch it live instead of waiting to watch it later! People can watch Game of Thrones on HBO Go or by illegally downloading it, but they will garner 26 viewers ON A FREAKIN’ PAY STATION! Sure, WWE can tout how they sold out New York three days in a row, but it’s New York and a major city. How about that how in Rockford, Illinois that barely drew 3500 people? But I digress!

WWE has their employees on Twitter arguing with fans about the fact that less people watch their product now more than ever. Sean Waltman (X-Pac) countered with how they have more revenue now than they did in the Attitude Era. I am not an accountant or anything, but I know enough to know that revenue does not equal profit. Plus, WWE has way more different platforms for revenue now than they did at that time. Former WCW Commentator and Pittsburgh Radio Personality Mark Madden countered Waltman’s argument by saying “More revenue than ever but less eyes than ever. How long before the latter starts biting into the former?” With the fact that WWE is cutting costs by getting rid of pyro and cancelling WWE Network shows, I think we have our answer now don’t we? The ultimate form of the latter biting into that former will be if USA decides not to have them on their network anymore. If no other station picks them up, then WWE has their safety net with their network.

If it happens, don’t say that I didn’t tell you so!

Wanna give me your thoughts? Hit me up on Twitter @whosantcox or you can hit me up on Instagram under the name UltraGoldenAnt where you can see my dank memes and gym selfies! I will catch you next time, wrestling fans and silly marks alike!

*Kayfabe Kickout (2012 - 2020) has since rebranded in July, 2020 and is now known as 'Pro Wrestling Slam!'

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