Vince didn’t screw Dish, Dish screwed Dish!

Posted: February 19, 2014 by Kick Out At 2! in Shane D
Tags: , , , ,

dishIt’s been making the rounds over the last few days that Dish (formerly Dish Network) will not be carrying Elimination Chamber and potentially not carrying any WWE pay per view going forward.  While there is a lot of commentary about this situation around the net, I wanted to add a little something to it since I have some personal ties to Dish in that I used to be an employee there.  Having been through quite a few channel disputes and takedowns on the customer relations end, I can kind of see where they’re going with this and how they come to the idea of boycotting, but at the end of the day, I feel it’s entirely the wrong decision.

Earlier today, WWE released this statement;

“WWE is pleased that the majority of our cable and satellite Pay-Per-View distributors are giving our fans an option to purchase traditional Pay-Per-Views as we prepare to launch WWE Network on Monday, February 24. Unfortunately, DISH will not be doing so. We hope DISH will reconsider for this Sunday’s Elimination Chamber Pay-Per-View event and especially for WrestleMania 30.”

Basically, the first step in these kind of disputes is that one side blames the other.  WWE is essentially telling you that Dish doesn’t have your interest as a customer in mind and will not be offering the product that you want to purchase.  Dish’s side of things was:

“WWE has chosen to launch a 24/7 online network, without its TV partners, that includes all of its pay-per-view events. As WWE enters the increasingly fragmented media world by themselves, DISH will continue to consider the value of WWE pay-per-view on an event by event basis.”

At it’s core, they’re saying that WWE chose not to play the way we want them to play, so we’re not going to invite them over anymore.  Which, honestly, is the way that Dish rolls.  It’s the way that they’ve always rolled.  AMC showed up last year and decided that they were now a bigger player than they originally started out to be and wanted more money per subscriber.  Dish didn’t feel that and took the channel off the air.  Now, I’m not here to criticize Dish on that situation, as channel takedowns due to price increases are an entirely different animal and in most cases the cable/satellite company is trying to actually keep your rates from going up when they choose to fight like that.  I feel that this, however, is a different situation.

It’s no secret, or even surprise, that cable companies are upset that WWE has basically taken the PPV industry’s #2 player out of the game with the launch of this network.  Even in a world where a large group of fans is upset with the product being offered, WWE makes a lot of money ever month for themselves and their television and PPV partners.  By offering another option at a fraction of the price, WWE has severely undercut these companies.  I get it.  They’re not happy.  That’s a lot of money that PPV providers will be missing out on because of this.

wwe logoWhere I feel that Dish is making the wrong move, though, is that they’re throwing out ALL potential money to be made just because they won’t be making AS MUCH as they started out making.  Satellite really stepped up into becoming  a competitor of cable over the last ten to fifteen years.  Before that, most customers who had satellite had it because they were not in an area that had access to cable.  While the industry has changed and both Dish and DirecTV have stepped up in the last decade or so, there is still a large section of their customer base that exists in an area that cannot receive television through cable.  They’re in remote areas where other telecommunication companies haven’t set up infrastructure.  This includes Internet.  No cable means no cable Internet.  In a lot of these areas DSL isn’t an option either.  This leaves the only option for Internet satellite based services like WildBlue or HughesNet.  Neither of those services are viable services to have the WWE Network on either due to speed or, mainly, due to data restrictions.  I know for a fact that WildBlue’s highest data limit per month is about 25 GBs of usage and that’s at their highest package which is near $100 if not over.  The service that I had when I lived in that area was $60 a month for 10GB of monthly usage.  I regularly hit that cap through just normal web surfing, so if I hadn’t moved to Florida last summer, the WWE Network would just be this wonderful pipe dream that I would never get to experience.  In those situations, PPV would be the only option I would have for watching something like Wrestlemania, which I do every year.

That’s just the geographical restrictions for services.  You’re also going to have customers who aren’t up on the newest technology and aren’t going to subscribe to the Network, but still want PPVs.  Will the WWE Network hurt WWE PPV sales?  Of course.  There’s going to be a huge segment that will not turn down the opportunity to pay $10 a month for a PPV instead of $55+.  Just take Wrestlemania into the equation.  Mania is usually $75 or so for the HD feed.  For $15 less, a Network subscriber gets Mania, 5 other PPVs, and 6 months of the backlog of on demand content.  Of course that’s going to kick the PPV model right in it’s ass.

But it’s not going to kill it dead.

There will always be people who want to order PPV, whether out of necessity or out of habit.  What Dish has done is throw the baby out with the bathwater.  They’re so upset that their part of the deal is going to be diminished that they’re tossing away any possible money that they could make at all.

Their posturing isn’t going to make Vince rethink the way the Network runs.  This is how WWE works now.  Everyone’s going to have to follow suit.  Vince revolutionized the PPV industry and it would not be where it is today without him.  He’s chosen a new direction and could very easily be at the forefront of this new revolution.  You think HBO isn’t watching how this plays out incredibly closely?  If Vince succeeds and the Network is sustainable or even THRIVES without the regular PPV model, expect HBO GO to be available without a backing cable or satellite subscription very shortly after.  Vince has the potential to prove that big name products like this do not need a distributor.  They can be their own distributor and keep all of the profit.  Companies like Dish can choose to be a part of this and work in this new system, or they can watch the future roll on without them.  Their choice.

-Shane

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