Hoping to boost subscriptions to its WWE Network, World Wrestling Entertainment announced this week that the video-streaming service will be free for the month of November, although subscribers will pay precisely double the standard rate next month.
WWE Chairman Vince McMahon made a rare appearance on the company’s flagship TV program, Monday Night Raw, to announce the pricing change with the carnivalesque panache of a present-day P.T. Barnum.
Then, when the microphone was no longer anywhere near his lips, he muttered to himself that “we’ll make up for that lost revenue by Christmas.”
McMahon also trumpeted that Survivor Series, one of the “Big Four” pay-per-views of the WWE event calendar, will be free to watch on Nov. 23, but he failed to mention that the December pay-per-view, TLC: Tables Ladders and Chairs,” will cost $49.95.
WWE has gone to great lengths to promote the WWE Network — even brainwashing live audiences to bleat in unison the standard monthly price of “Nine-ninety-nine!” — so the change in pricing has been described by The Wall Street Journal as “a bigger risk than the XFL.”
It is unclear how WWE will handle the inevitable backlash when subscribers are charged $19.98 at the end of December, but industry insiders predict that McMahon will simply tell the so-called WWE Universe to “Deal with it.”