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MMA Crossfire – WWE hoping international expansion will boost network subscribers

Now we know why World Wrestling Entertainment and the UFC are so hesitant to release its network subscriber numbers for WWE Network and UFC FightPass.

According to its second quarter results, the WWE is currently sitting around 700,000 subscribers, a nice round number, but an increase of a puny 33,000 since the last report in April.

The company is hoping an upcoming August 12th international network expansion of 170 countries will help top the 1-million mark by the end of the year.

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Canadian fans will have an option to watch the network via Rogers pay-TV starting August 12th. A 10-year partnership agreement was signed.

“WWE’s core business metrics remain strong, and WWE Network continues to be the single greatest opportunity to
transform WWE’s business model. During the quarter, we developed plans to make WWE Network available globally
starting August 12, and completed a long-term content deal in Canada with Rogers Communications,” Vince McMahon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer said. “Additionally, we identified efficiencies that will improve our 2015 OIBDA outlook by $30 million. Based on these initiatives, we are optimistic about our potential to drive long-term growth.”

In this file photo, WWE star Dwayne Johnson, better known as The Rock, left, with Vince McMahon, and WWE star John Cena at a news conference. (AP Photo/Starpix, Dave Allocca)

The company is hedging its future on the success of the network. WWE chief strategy and financial officer George Barrios estimates  it needs 1-million subscribers to break even with potential estimates of 2 and 4 million subscribers.

The WWE recorded a loss of $14.5 million in the second quarter.

“We identified efficiencies across WWE, which include a 7% reduction in staff, and improved our 2015 OIBDA outlook by $30 million,” Barrios said in the report. “We developed plans to make WWE Network available in over 170 countries, and entered a 10-year deal that provides for the WWE Network launch as a traditional a-la-carte Pay-TV channel in Canada and renews our television licensing agreement for Raw and SmackDown. The progress in our strategic initiatives reinforces our view that successful execution of our WWE Network strategy can generate meaningful economic returns.”

The WWE’s results so far seem to justify the reluctance of UFC president Dana White to embrace the WWE model with it’s UFC FightPass digital streaming service.

Randy Orton
In this file photo, Randy Orton during the WWE Raw live event at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta. (Stuart Gradon/Calgary Herald)

However, with Summerslam on the horizon August 17th, Survivor Series in the fall, and a plan to offer a $19.99 a month no -commitment option, there are opportunities for the former federation to significantly bolster its network membership.

John Cena defends the WWE world heavyweight championship against former champion and UFC champ Brock Lesnar.

WWE stock closed August 1st at $13.03, up 55 cents or 4.41%.

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Kenai is a former Postmedia Network online news and sports editor. He is the Editor-in-Chief for MMA Crossfire.

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