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Saturday, January 11, 2014

WWE vs. DirecTV, and How the Pro-Wrestling Industry Can Benefit

In a recent article published by the Los Angeles Times, the possibility was raised that DirecTV may be dropping WWE PPVs in light of the upcoming WWE Network. While it's true that the PPV audience for WWE's events have been declining and the WWE Network will further lower buy rates to some extent, by cutting ties with WWE, DirecTV would be hurting themselves despite whether or not they would be attempting to hurt WWE. The WWE Network is inevitable- it is going to arrive in February no matter what DirecTV decides to do in regards to their current relationship with WWE. The more avenues that a product (in this case, WWE PPVs) has available, the more opportunities that it has to sell; but apparently WWE is confident that their new network is worth the risk of potentially losing DirecTV as an avenue for their PPVs. Meanwhile, not only would cutting ties with WWE make DirecTV look bad in the eyes of WWE fans, but they would also be leaving PPV money on the table- instead of getting less WWE PPV buys due to the WWE Network, they wouldn't be getting any WWE PPV buys at all.

However, while cutting ties with WWE would be a loss for DirecTV, it would open a new opportunity for many promotions in the wrestling industry that are currently not seen on national television. When TNA began running shows in 2002, they didn't have a TV deal yet- it's almost impossible for a promotion to get a TV deal while it's an unknown commodity without a product to show (unless it involves a booker with an impressive track record). TNA presented weekly PPVs, which served as an alternative for their product to be seen nationally. Also, many Japan-based promotions (including BJW, DDT, and JWP) gained national exposure in the United States via the Japanese Hardcore Wrestling PPV series that was presented from 2001-2005 (and was also produced on DVD).

If WWE truly does exit the DirecTV PPV landscape and leaves time blocks in their absence, it will be the perfect moment for a promotion without a TV presence in the United States to come onto the PPV scene and increase their exposure. While both WWE and TNA have their fan bases, many of those fans are open to being exposed to promotions that they are not very familiar with. Which means that depending on how things turn out between WWE and DirecTV, 2014 may be the year when at least one promotion takes a big step forward in the industry.

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