Daniel Bryan Wins, WWE Tops 600K Subscribers

NEW ORLEANS (TheStreet) -- "If ya smell what The Rock is cookin?" --The Rock, WWE Superstar

Investors can certainly smell the way toward profitability, as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) announced it has surpassed 600,000 subscribers, and is well on its way to passing the 1 million subscriber mark on the WWE Network, the company's breakeven point.

Led by Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, the Stamford, Conn.-based company is poised to change television history, yet again, as more companies watch what WWE is doing, with its over-the-top (OTT) streaming service.

In a press release following the company's WrestleMania 30 pay-per-view, which saw such iconic events as The Undertaker losing at WrestleMania and Daniel Bryan becoming the company's champion, WWE has 667,2871 subscribers, just 42 days after the network launched on Feb. 24.

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The WWE Network was first announced in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Since the start of the year, WWE shares have been one of the best performing stocks on the New York Stock Exchange, gaining 69%, excluding dividends, compared to a 0.9% return, excluding dividends for the S&P 500.

Right now, the WWE Network, which is the first 24/7 streaming network with live and scheduled programming, is available only in the U.S. The company noted in the press release it would be rolled out to Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Nordics later this year, and into early 2015. In an interview with CFO George Barrios in February, Barrios hinted Canada may be getting the Network earlier than had initially planned.

In the interview, Barrios said 1 million domestic subscribers for the Network would help the company break even, but that 2 million to 3 million domestic subscribers would provide the company with an additional $50 million to $150 million in incremental EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization). "If we come out of 2014 with 1 million subscribers, we'll get to 2 to 3 million in the traditional ramp rate," he went on to say in the Feb interview. "We've done a lot of research on this. We have very excitable fans who share the brand exuberance, and the standard algorithms we did for the research saw we could get 2 to 3 million subscribers. That's a home run for us, and it changes the business."

WWE Network, which costs $9.99 per month and asks for a six-month commitment, allows fans to view content on whatever device they want, be it Apple TV, Roku, Sony PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Apple's (AAPL) iPad and iPhone, Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle Fire devices, Google (GOOG) Android devices, and on the company's Web site, WWE.com.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New Orleans

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