EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 16: Vince McMahon attends a press conference to announce that WWE Wrestlemania 29 will be held at MetLife Stadium in 2013 at MetLife Stadium on February 16, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images)
WrestleMania 28 has come and gone, and with nearly 1.3 million pay-per-view (PPV) buys, it was the most successful show ever. Knowing this would likely be the case beforehand, the powers that be within World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) had hoped to launch the WWE Network, a vision company CEO Vince McMahon has had for years, right around the same time period.
This was desired so much by those in charge that the April 1, 2012, date was announced and promos began airing during Monday Night Raw, the promotions flagship show, teasing its arrival. The problem, of course, was that WWE wasn't anywhere close to being ready to launch, as distribution deals had yet to be reached with cable providers and, even worse, top executives still needed to be hired.
McMahon, well known for being stubborn as a mule, was insisting on pushing forward despite the dire circumstances. Cooler heads eventually prevailed and the launch date was pushed back to sometime in the fall. Now, even that looks uncertain.
Despite all the issues facing the Network, WWE has maintained everything is moving along as planned and, in fact, they were supposedly in late stage negotiations with distributors as much as one month ago. Now, on a recent conference call with investors, McMahon has revealed that he expects an announcement to be made "within the next three months" on distribution partners.
He stressed, too, that the hold up was on WWE's end and not anyone else. Which sure sounds like they're still having all the same problems they've been having from Jump Street, namely that it's going to be damn near impossible for them to cut deals that make sense for the bottom line. The goal all along as been to reach deals to get the Network in 50 million homes, a hugely ambitious plan for a start up with no proven track record and niche programming.
McMahon also told investors that WWE will not involve any other company to help get the Network off the ground, as they simply refuse to give up any control of the product. That makes sense and all but at this point it looks as though they will incur costs of up to $10 million this year alone.
And that's without knowing for certain that the Network will even launch before the year is out.
At this point, the WWE Network feels like a McMahon pipe dream that he's chasing until it becomes a reality, even if it's primed to be a big money loser, much like the XFL more than a decade ago.