In starting an over-the top Internet video service, WWE Network has shown weak growth since its launch in February -- just 31,000 net subscriber additions to a total of 731,000. The service cost $9.99 a month.
In the U.S. the growth is particularly weak -- just 3,000 net subscriber additions, during the period. In addition, there is a lot of coming-and-going of these digital video subscribers -- the “churn” rate is very high, 36%. Some 255,000 subscribers dropped out since its launch -- though many more, as new customers or returning subscribers, have signed on as well.
Wrestling TV/event company World Wrestling Entertainment recently said it would no longer require fans to commit to a six-month contract to get the $9.99 rate. Customers can buy on a month-to-month basis. In November, the service will offer free content.
WWE needs 1 million subscribers to be profitable. Before launch, estimates were the service could sign up 2 to 3 million subscribers for the over the top Internet service -- hoping to make some $240 million in revenues annually. WWE already makes $80 million a year from pay-per-view events.
WWE’s third-quarter earnings, released on Thursday, posted a net loss during the period -- to the tune of $5.9 million -- from a net income of $2.4 million in the third-quarter 2013. On the positive side, revenue climbed 6% to $120.2 million.
On Wednesday, WWE stock was at $14.00. Mid-day trading of the stock was down to $12.50.