WWE Network on Shaky Ground, Triggering Drastic Changes

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- World Wrestling Entertainment's (WWE) plans to get its transformational WWE Network to 1.4 million subscribers has caused the company to cut 7% of its staff and change how it rolls out the network.

At the end of the second quarter, the WWE Network had 700,000 subscribers, a net add of just 33,000 since Wrestlemania 30 in April. The company announced a plan to make the network a pay-per-view a-la-carte channel in Canada with Rogers Communications (RCI), starting Aug. 12 and running for 10 years. In addition, the deal renews Rogers' license of WWE's Raw and SmackDown shows, and grants Rogers distribution rights to the company's pay-per-views.

WWE has said previously that 1.4 million subscribers gets the network to a breakeven point.

WWE said it expects the network will be live in the U.K. by October, but plans "for the network in Italy, UAE, Germany, Japan, India, China, Thailand and Malaysia will be communicated at a later date." WWE also plans to make the U.S. version of the network available on an over-the-top Internet basis starting Aug. 12 in over 170 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Mexico, Spain, the Nordic countries and others.

"We are very pleased with the performance of the WWE Network," CFO George Barrios said on the conference call.

WWE announced a new pricing structure for the network, which had previously been $9.99 a month with a six-month commitment. Starting in August, it will cost $19.99 a month with no commitment, and an upfront one-time payment option for its existing $9.99-per-month offering, which still requires users to subscribe for six months.

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