WWE Network Then, Now, Forever – 3 Ways WWE could improve its network
The WWE Network is not exactly setting records for sign-ups and customer satisfaction. Although, I am not sure why. If there is nothing that you have the Network for the monthly main roster Pay-Per-Views (PPV) then it is an amazing deal. $9.99 a month for the Network (includes PPV’s) versus upwards of $45 per PPV through your cable provider. Who needs a calculator to understand that is a great deal?
Sadly, out of the regular viewers of Monday Night Raw, we see that about one-quarter have signed up for the Network. Fifty percent is about what the WWE penetration is for the Network versus the weekly viewer ratings of the flagship show for WWE. While this is often six times what Global Force Wrestling brings in on their Thursday night show, it is still quite low for what WWE is accustomed to seeing from their fans.
Something needs to change, and here are the three ways in which WWE can make the WWE Network better.
More list shows for the viewers
This may seem like a no-brainer but WWE still managed to find a way to ignore this easy to create fan favourite. Anyone doubting this idea just needs to look at YouTube channels that focus on this style of content with wrestling.
There are a million and one various categories and topics for lists that the WWE could create – many that fans would have no idea about and therefore are not on YouTube already. For instance, there could be a weekly nostalgia series focusing on yearly milestones discussing highlights of that week (going back in time in increments of 5 or 10 years).
The content would only be in danger of “being old” if there was ONLY one major highlight that week once every five years.
This could be a treasure trove of content for viewers. Bringing in commentary from people that were there to give the backstory of the events being discussed will boost the emotions that they behold. This could also give WWE a reason to showcase Legends more, bring some back, throw others a bone, etc.
There are 12 months in the year, right? Isn't it possible for each month to have noteworthy content focused around something specific? December could be content focused on the WWE World Heavyweight Championship – longest/shortest reigns, weirdest champions, wildest ways the championship was won/lost, etc.
Do it weekly and bam, four content ideas a year for this one and you can mix it up following years. Same for the Intercontinental, tag, Cruiserweight, United States, and other championships. There could even be a month (four episodes) devoted to forgotten/retired titles such as the Hardcore Championship, comparing champions between the various promotions, etc.
I am not talking about Swerved or that one show with Edge and Christian, though both were funny at times, they were “out there” for the WWE Network. I can see how those types of shows make it hard to “be a WWE Superstar” as it is just more cameras pointed towards your face. This leaves less “me time” that is precious for people on television and directly connected with the fans.
There is little “time off” for wrestlers – I am not saying let’s cut into that more here. Instead, work with wrestlers to create stuff they are into. Like Xavier Woods and his YouTube show, Up Up Down Down or Chris Jericho and his podcast.
I am not saying rip off those guys either. However, they can work with the wrestlers to be involved in activities that they are interested in. For instance, Stone Cold Steve Austin had a podcast that aired on the WWE Network and fetched decent engagement from the audience.
Getting Jeff Hardy on an indie music show or interviewing the bands that work with WWE to create entrance themes can be few options for WWE. One episode a month would suffice.
This would also give fans a chance to meet new bands and see another side of their favourite WWE Superstars.
Draw inspiration from YouTube
This one is probably the most controversial entry on this list. The WWE Network does not need to be exactly like YouTube. We don’t need fans uploading their VHS transfers from PPV’s that WWE has already preserved in a much better quality.
We also don’t need fans uploading bootlegs from other promotions or home recordings of “backyard” wrestling. The idea is to become more like YouTube in the content area and not the fan-submitted content side.
Think about this. How many times have you been watching a classic Pay Per View and heard someone like Bobby “The Brain” Heenan (R.I.P.) mention this is not the first time, say, Hogan has played dirty in the ring – almost foreshadowing the eventual heel turn of the red and yellow hero?
Now, what did you do when something like that hit you?
Did you search the WWE Network for “Hogan playing dirty in ring” and find nothing tangible?
How about hitting YouTube with the same search criteria and then being presented with more than a handful of list focused shows dedicated to this topic?
I found myself leaving WWE for YouTube because of something like this. It happens more and more for me as I watch more classic PPV’s.
From best tag champs references to “this is not the first time, he has done that in the ring” I have had a ton of tugs on my memory that has led me away from the WWE Network for YouTube searching for more information on those tidbits.
Often, I find myself not going back to the WWE Network.
I understand that there is an immense amount of man-hours involved in creating much of this content. That is easily helped along by having polls of the WWE Universe as to what they feel is the best content for various categories.
Let the fans tell you what is worth focusing on, give the fans a voice on the Network and those subscription numbers will rise.