WWE recently announced increased content through partnerships with both Yahoo! and E! The global entertainment brand will showcase its beleaguered Divas on E!'s Total Divas reality show.
Meanwhile, Yahoo! will be streaming a 30-minute preshow among other content through a partnership scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2013.
Throw in WWE's current deal with YouTube—which may or may not be in place by the time Yahoo! moves its new furniture into WWE—and it appears as if the promotion is siphoning off programing meant for its once-promising network.
In all fairness to the WWE, the short-form content on Yahoo! would not be a suitable length for network distribution. Their 30-minute weekly Raw preshow is co-exclusive with WWE Network, and could be simulcast via network.
Unfortunately, the WWE Network hasn't exactly been a study in sound public relations. WWE advertised the debut of the network in 2012 with a slick, hip dub step video. It would later scrap the impending launch due to logistical problems and failure to land a willing TV provider.
Since then, the WWE has been awkwardly badgered with inquiries on when and how the network will launch. Through it all, Vince McMahon and WWE CFO George Barrios seemed to have mastered the art of dancing around these inquiries.
During Thursday's first-quarter-earnings call, Barrios said the company is "out of the prognostication business" and WWE Network could be available by the end of 2015. That should keep the shareholders at bay until at least next quarter.
Shows like Backstage Fallout, WWE Toyz and The JBL and Cole Show currently frequent WWE's YouTube channel. With the onslaught of programming on major TV and online partners E! and Yahoo!, the WWE may have privately thrown in the towel on its pet project. One has to think shows like Total Divas were originally packaged to be on the WWE Network.
But the farther the WWE Network timeline is pushed back, and the more programing deals the WWE strikes up out of nowhere, the more troubling the signs become for the WWE Network.
The silver lining in all this is that the WWE could create more interest in a potential network the more successful their content deals become. Statistics and metrics tracking how popular WWE's online and TV content is outside of its core product could be like cat nip for potential TV suitors.
But all this leverage will be contingent upon a smooth launch for the WWE Network.
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