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A potential return to pay-per-view could cost WWE more than its worth

From eye gouging to price gouging, WWE will bleed its audience dry with a return to its previous business model.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and right now, there are some smoke signals out of Stamford, Connecticut, that suggest WWE will eventually return its premium live events to pay-per-view. The first sign came from CEO Nick Khan this past spring, and now we’re hearing it again as ESPN says it’s open to a deal with WWE, especially for pay-per-view.

I doubt that putting my foot down and saying the literal buck stops here will deter WWE from gouging more money from its audience. And I’m sure that reminding fans how WWE once thought we were stupid for paying almost $60 a month for a premium event won’t discourage diehards from doing so again.

I just won’t be one of them.

As the saying goes, “Why buy the cow when you’ve been streaming the milk from Peacock for dirt cheap while also having access to movies, shows, and other live sports?”

When the WWE Network launched in 2014, I was happy to sign up for the service. I was even more delighted to subscribe to Peacock when WWE moved its Network to the NBCUniversal-owned streaming platform. For the same price as the Network (or less), I’d have access to WWE, its extensive video library, all live events plus hit movies, my wife’s favorite shows, and more.

Talk about getting the most bang for your buck. Quickly, Peacock became an instant winner in our home, making it easier to cut ties with other services such as ESPN+.

Before ESPN+ drove us off with its never-ending price hikes, we begrudgingly subscribed to the service despite not caring for other sports, just for the “privilege” of watching and ordering UFC events. But as the prices became ridiculous, we quit paying for the monthly spectaculars and opted to wait for them to be released for free weeks later.

Now, I could survive by watching WWE pay-per-views at a later date. But I can’t see myself subscribing to a streaming service that doesn’t satisfy the diverse interests of my home, especially if doing so means coming out of pocket for an additional fee for a single night of sports entertainment action.

And that would be unfortunate because the current model encourages me to follow along and engage with the company every week, leading to a monthly special, rather than pick and choose when to tune in or tune out. That constant engagement has made me receptive to spending money on WWE in other ways.

One would think that would be enough, but that does not matter in the entertainment world, which preys on its consumers, making the price for being a fan of anything in 2023 ridiculous.

In 1991, my mother paid $30 for two ringside seats for us to watch Hulk Hogan, once the biggest star in wrestling, battle Earthquake. Today, that price won’t even get one person through the door at Lincoln Financial Field next year to attend WrestleMania 40 and watch from the worst seat in the house.

That’s absurd. And when WWE continually brags about record-breaking profits after nearly every show, and when I remember how they made then-record profits during the pandemic, when there were no ticket sales for much of the year, it makes talk of returning to pay-per-view so much more off-putting because the company comes across as greedy.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if WWE lost more than this frugal fanatic, as much of the country faces a financial crisis, with many being forced from their homes and jobs. Because when it comes to putting food on the table or watching the Head of the Table, that’s the one match Roman Reigns is guaranteed to lose.

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