Tuesday, September 12, 2023

How Independent Promotions Using Streaming Services Could Impact Major Promotions

Last month, I looked at the future of wrestling in the age of streaming, and the potential strategies that promotions could utilize to reach new audiences. This time, I will look at how independent promotions using streaming services could impact major promotions.

Independent wrestling promotions present shows that often include talent that is not familiar to the majority of the wrestling audience. This helps to keep the interest of wrestling fans, who are always interested in seeing something new. That former WWE / AEW / WOW / Impact Wrestling talent who was booked to be in the main event was the one who drew fans to the show to check out the promotion for the first time, but it's the "new faces" on the midcard that turn them into fans of the promotion. This has led to independent promotions becoming more popular, especially in recent years.

Streaming services are also having a big impact on the wrestling industry. They allow fans to watch wrestling on demand, without having to subscribe to a traditional cable or satellite package. This has made it easier for fans to discover new wrestling promotions and wrestlers that are based all over the world, including Yanagase Pro Wrestling in Japan and the top stars on the Singapore independent wrestling scene. These streaming services include TwitCasting, TrillerTV, Premier Streaming Network (PSN), YouTube, and Title Match Network.

The increase in popularity of independent wrestling and streaming services is having a mixed impact on the major wrestling promotions. On the one hand, it is forcing them to adapt to the changing landscape. They are now competing with promotions that feature comparatively fresh talent and are able to offer a unique and usually more personalized experience. On the other hand, the major promotions still have many fans, a strong brand identity, rosters featuring top talent, and other quality employees both on-camera and behind the scenes. These promotions are well-positioned to weather the storm and emerge as leaders in the new wrestling landscape.

Still, one way that the increase in popularity of independent wrestling and streaming services could impact major wrestling promotions is that it could lead to talent leaving major promotions to go to independent promotions. As independent wrestling becomes more popular and promotions make more money, wrestlers may have more opportunities to make a living. This could lead to some of the top wrestlers leaving the major promotions to wrestle in independent promotions. Of course, it's unlikely that the independent promotions will be able to offer the six-figure (and sometimes higher) salaries that major promotions do, but some wrestlers prioritize the freedom that independent promotions offer over money.

A second way is that major promotions could lose viewers to independent promotions. If fans can watch wrestling on demand, they may be less likely to watch major wrestling promotions that air on traditional television. Currently, TwitCasting has over 33 million registered users worldwide, TrillerTV has more than ten million users and four million registered sports and entertainment fans, subscriptions to independent wrestling channels on YouTube total at least four million, Title Match Network has more than 2 million subscribers, and Premier Sports Network is a relatively new streaming service and is increasing in popularity. Currently, there are an estimated 3.5 billion video streamer users worldwide, and that number is expected to increase to 4.6 billion by 2027. This could lead to a decline in viewership and revenue for the major promotions.

A third way is that major promotions could be forced to change their content and presentation in order to compete with independent promotions. This could lead to major promotions changing their hiring strategies regarding writers, as they seek to make their shows more unique, exciting, and interesting.

A fifth way is that major promotions could partner with streaming services in order to reach a wider audience and generate new revenue streams. Many major promotions worldwide are already doing this, and it's a safe bet that others will follow suit as independent promotions reap the benefits of utilizing streaming and further rise in popularity.

Although it's uncertain exactly how much growth independent promotions will experience as streaming becomes more popular, the combination of the two will likely have a significant impact. Major promotions will need to adapt to the changing landscape in order to continue to enjoy their current levels of success in the industry.

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