Just last week, a survey started making the rounds that involved WWE asking fans what they would think of having "the big four" pay-per-views, WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, Summerslam and Survivor Series, available on its new Network, which is set for launch sometime next year.
This caused quite a stir online, namely from fans who couldn't wrap their head around the fact that WWE would give away its biggest selling events on a subscription based channel. As it turns out, plans that were in place recently didn't call for exactly that.
Here's the word from Court Bauer on a recent episode of Figure Four Daily with Bryan Alvarez:
"Actually, the way I've been told, the way it was explained to me, and obviously anything and everything that happens in WWE, it changes every 10 seconds, it's kind of like Groundhog's Day, you wake up and everything resets itself. But the way I understood it was they were going to, or the plan was to do WrestleMania, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, Summerslam, the big four, the core four, on a delay. Like how HBO and Showtime does their pay-per-view boxing. Where you have like a week or two pad after people buy it and then you can watch it. And that makes a lot of sense to me if that's still what they're looking to do."
The entire interview is a fascinating listen and I would encourage you to check it out if you can.
With that out of the way, this makes much more sense than the idea of just giving away the big four. This is actually a brilliant way to drive subscriptions to the channel while still earning the pay-per-view revenue WWE is used to getting. There's still plenty to question as far as how many folks will actually be willing to pay for an all pro wrestling channel. As it stands now, and as Alvarez notes in the radio show, they only have roughly 180,000 subscribers to the Classics On Demand service they provide.
Would it really be all that different with an entire channel?
It seems they're committed to make sure it would, especially if they plan on going through with this idea. Again, though, as Bauer makes sure to explain, plans change in WWE every 10 seconds. This entire network is a huge risk for the company and if it fails, they will lose a LOT of money. Not to mention, if it does poorly, it will hurt them badly in the next negotiation period for their Raw and Smackdown television deals with USA and SyFy, respectively.
The WWE Network will have a lot riding on it when it finally comes to be.