World Wrestling Entertainment has announced it is offering free access for a month to subscription digital product WWE Network.
The move is designed to provide fans with content during the global Covid-19 pandemic in the virtual absence of any live sports on television. It follows similar moves by the National Football League and National Basketball Association, as well as the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball.
Fans will gain access to a vast portion of the WWE Network library. This includes every WrestleMania, pay-per-view spectaculars such as Royal Rumble, SummerSlam, and Survivor Series, original documentaries, and more. It does not include the upcoming WrestleMania 36, however.
It is also hoped the initiative will help drive subscribers to the beleaguered WWE Network. In February, WWE reported in its latest financial report that WWE Network’s average paid subscribers dropped 10 per cent to 1.42 million, slightly lower than the company’s 1.43 million projection.
WWE also said it was evaluating “strategic alternatives” for the WWE Network going forward to help bolster its financial fortunes. This could reportedly involve putting its pay-per-view events on direct-to-consumer streaming service ESPN+.
Earlier this month, WWE announced that WrestleMania 36 will no longer take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, due to the ongoing health crisis.
The event on April 5 will still go ahead but on the closed set at WWE’s training facility in Orlando in front of essential personnel only. It will still be aired on WWE Network and pay-per-view globally. All related events in Tampa have been cancelled.
WWE has also highlighted its financial resources of over $500m (€441m) in available cash and debt capacity as it braces itself to battle the potentially “material” impact on its business caused by the coronavirus crisis.