Professional wrestling league WWE may shift its streaming content strategy as the company’s direct-to-consumer platform, WWE Network, struggles to find sustained growth.
During WWE’s fourth-quarter earnings call Friday, interim CFO Frank Riddick said WWE Network’s paid subscribers fell 10% to approximately 1.42 million. The company projected that the service’s average paid subscribers will increase on a sequential basis to approximately 1.47 million for the first quarter of 2020.
“Given the evolution of new streaming services and the increasing value of live content, we believe there may be alternative strategic options for the WWE Network, which would enable us to further monetize on those valuable premium content. Thus we’re currently evaluating alternative strategic options,” said Riddick according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.
One of those potential alternative options could be Amazon. Needham analyst Laura Martin said that Amazon could be a bidder for streaming rights to WWE content and could also potentially acquire the entire company.
“We believe that such a licensing deal would put AMZN in the best spot to purchase all of WWE, whenever the family is ready to exit,” Martin said according to CNBC.
Transitioning from a direct-to-consumer product like WWE Network to a licensing deal could make more financial sense for WWE, but it could also mean that the company doesn’t get as much access to first-party user data. When asked about during the earnings call, WWE CEO Vince McMahon said first-party data may have been a misplaced priority for the WWE Network.
“It was one of our goals, still continues to be, but when you’re playing with some of the majors, it depends on whether or not we can negotiate holding on to things of that nature,” said McMahon, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.
While WWE considers its options, the company is also running a limited beta trial on a free tier for WWE Network. Riddick said the trial, which was launched in December, is still in the early days and that the company is continuing to analyze the results.