US pay-television provider Dish Network has said it will scale back its offering of pay-per-view events staged by the WWE wrestling organisation, which will launch its own 24-hour pay-television streaming channel on Monday.
Dish said that WWE was unwilling to adjust its pay-per-view costs to satellite and cable companies – a move that it described as “unfair to their customers,” according to news website Variety – and added that it would only consider WWE pay-per-view events on an ad hoc basis in the future.
Dish, which said it would not show the ‘WWE Elimination Chamber’ event scheduled for this Sunday, added that WWE was entering “the increasingly fragmented media world by themselves.” Dish also said: “We need to re-focus our efforts to support partners that better serve Dish customers. Other satellite and cable companies, including DirecTV, have also expressed they may no longer provide WWE pay-per-view events in the future.”
WWE said it was “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.” WWE added: “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 (on April 6).”
Following confirmation in January of the launch date of WWE Network, DirecTV said that the new project would “accelerate” the trend of declining audiences for live WWE pay-per-view events and added: “Clearly we need to quickly re-evaluate the economics and viability of their business with us, as it now appears the WWE feels they do not need their pay-per-view distributors.”
WWE Network will feature all 12 WWE live pay-per-view events in 2014 as well as reality shows, documentaries, archive matches and more than 1,500 hours of on-demand content at the launch. Subscriptions will cost $9.99 (€7.34) per month and customers will have to make a minimum commitment of six months.