The dream of a streaming indie wrestling super-service isn’t working out the way everyone hoped. It might not even be working out the way some of the companies involved said it would - that according to a lawsuit FloSports filed against WWN recently.
Reports by David Bixenspan for Fightful and Sean Radican for Pro Wrestling Torch, do the heavy lifting on the story, and both are required reading if you’re interested in learning more. In a nutshell, Flo alleges that when they paid for their FloSlam service to become the exclusive streaming source of WWN promotions such as Evolve and Shine, WWN provided “just plain false” information about their own online viewership and revenue. As a result, the suit filed in Texas’ Travis County District Court claims WWN used the “inaccurate and unreliable” data to get Flo to pay them “hundreds of thousands of dollars”.
FloSports is suing for damages in excess of one million dollars on the grounds of breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation.
The picture painted by the lawsuit isn’t a pretty one for either company. It states that when asked for viewership numbers by Flo in order to set subscriber forecasts and budget their own business, WWN first said they lost the spreadsheet, then provided one with duplicate entries and data for DVD sales in addition to streaming purchases. As dubious a business practice as this alleged cooking of the books is, Flo’s decision to go ahead and sign a deal with a company that couldn’t keep accurate records is questionable, as well. One group looks shady, the other gullible.
According to what FloSports Senior Vice President and General Counsel Paul Hurdlow told Fightful, the plaintiffs don’t want out of the relationship, but are using legal action as a means to move negotiations forward. But a statement WWN’s lawyer Samuel Heller gave PWInsider doesn’t make that sound like a realistic option:
“While we prefer not to litigate cases in the media, it is clear that FloSports is attempting to use the press to create leverage in this dispute by spreading false, defamatory and misleading statements about WWN. In reality, FloSports has wholly failed to honor its contractual obligation to promote WWN’s events, and has been unable to successfully integrate WWN into its mismanaged and failing subscription streaming platform. At no time has WWN provided incorrect, false or misleading information and this lawsuit is nothing more than a transparent effort by FloSports to avoid its responsibility to WWN, its talent and its fans. We are confident that the litigation will result favorably to WWN.”
It’s also not entirely clear Flo is interested in staying in the pro wrestling business. A source told Bixenspan the service peaked at less that 2000 subscibers before a brief price hike from $20 to $30 per month in May, 2017. And after firing FloSlam Managing Editor Jeremy Botter in December of 2016, the company last month let FloSports Vice-President Toby Mergler go - Botter and Mergler were the team who brought pro wrestling to the service, per PWTorch.
Should the deal dissolve, FloSlam might cease to be a thing a little over a year after its launch looked like it might provide an alternative to WWE Network. Outside of ones announced around when they went live last year, they haven’t been signing new deals with other indies. If Evolve goes...
WWN, on the other hand, probably could find a home. They’ve had their own network, and creative head/promoter Gabe Sapolsky has an increasingly tight relationship with Triple H. At a time when WWE continues openly considering adding other promotions to their streaming service, a leap there wouldn’t be surprising.