MR. TITO STRIKES BACK – Follow-up on Daniel Bryan’s In-Ring WWE Return, WWE Network Prices, & More

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Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING by Mr. Tito exclusively at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. I’m enjoying the feedback from The Doc‘s The Doc Says… LoP Radio podcast in which I appeared this past Wednesday (taped Saturday, 3/17). Many of you were SHOCKED at my speaking voice as I was calm and professional… Most of you were expecting PURE RAGE in my voice and had the complete opposite of that. For one, it’s the Doc’s show and I wanted to be respectful of that… In real life, I’m speaking in front of corporate types and engaging in public speaking events. As you can see, I can be quite professional.

When I write my Columns here at LordsofPain.net, my writing reflects a direct download from my brain and is probably more unfiltered than how I present myself in person. It’s not an act but more of myself amplied up to 11… Plus, I use a few tricks like the tone of my writing to make things jump out at you, such as using ALL CAPS to bring your attention to a point that I like to make. That, and I kinda grew up in a culture where I don’t take crap and was surrounded by a lot of trash talking. Obviously, that is lessened when I’m speaking in person or being a guest for someone. On my columns, however, it’s my rules and my canvas. One of the luxuries writing for LordsofPain.net is 100% freedom that we have to write whatever and whenever. As I’ve also said, I consider writing a column as an art expression… It often reflects my mood at the time and I’ll admit that the column can serve as an escape from reality just as I argued in my Pro Wrestling is Just a Ride column that Pro Wrestling itself acts as an escape of reality for most.

But I do want to THANK everyone who enjoyed my first ever LoP Radio appearance and I want to especially THANK the Doc for having me. We legitimately just said “hi” to each other on Skype, asked how our days went, and seconds later, we did that show. Doc framed a very engaging yet highly intelligent conversation and he kept it flowing nicely.

If you want to catch Podcast, you may listen to it on the LordsofPain.net page plug-in, BlogTalkRadio.com, or you can actually download it on iTunes as a Podcast (just search for “LoPRadio”). Do yourself a favor and check out the variety of many other shows on the LoP Radio network as well. Being an old man, I was unaware that you could download them from iTunes… Looks like I have something additional to listen to when I’m taking care of chores around the house. Podcasts are GREAT when mowing the lawn!

BLOWS my mind to hear my own voice on iTunes…

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Well, I shall be attending Smackdown LIVE in Pittsburgh, PA on Tuesday. Honestly, I had zero intentions of ever attending that television show in Pittsburgh but my demand to attend began to grow once Daniel Bryan came back. Then, I heard that opening segment promo… I was legitimately moved.

The best part, for me, was when Daniel Bryan praised his wife Brie Bella for pushing him to return to the ring and to never give up on his dreams. As the great Peter Cetera would say in his song One Good Woman: “You bring me feeling, you bring me fire… You give me a love that’s taking me higher. It just goes to prove what one good woman can do!”

That hits HOME, big time. As a happily married man myself, I get exactly what Bryan said about Brie. In my case recently during 2016, a lost parent combined with being overworked drove me bonkers during that year. But “my good woman” had my back, supported me, and gave me something to live through as I was dealing with some tough stuff. At the end of the day, you leave everything at the workplace and return home to a loving family. That matters… Daniel Bryan is a big family man and Brie Bella deserves a ton of credit for having faith in her husband to re-enter pro wrestling in spite of his head injuries. I could imagine she could see how empty he was, professionally, by just working a non-wrestling role.

Hopefully, he can STAY HEALTHY.

WWE officials should begin instructing him how to wrestle, specifically BANNING certain aerial moves that put him at risk. Place an agent like Dean Malenko (I think he is still there) with him and modify his in-ring style to utilize more of his natural charisma and personality rather than high spots. That, and rely more on his KICKS as his striking power is what allows him at 5’10”, 210 pounds to be effective against larger or heavier wrestlers. Make that “Yes!” Lock submission hold become a more dominant finisher. Maybe give him a finisher that doesn’t rely on him making a kick that possibly causes him to land on his head. Give him the Stunner or something save like that where it doesn’t cause him to land on his back to bump his head.

The WWE wants to push Roman Reigns as their #1 guy on their flagship show. OK, this is where the BRAND SPLIT can help. Roman (+ Braun Strowman) rules RAW and Daniel Bryan runs Smackdown. Keep them separate. Push Bryan to the moon this time around. 100% clean wins, consistently winning, and do not have any Communications majors daughters calling him a “B+ Player” repeatedly without any redemption.

I would also recommend having Brie Bella as his valet to cheer him on at ringside. SELL that he’s a family man and proud husband. Most of the fans supporting Bryan are older and can now relate to a supportive family at home. Weren’t people questioning Maryse when she returned to manage the the Miz during 2016? How did that work out again? And Miz, by the way, hasn’t been the same since she went on maternity leave. After Daniel Bryan gave that passionate speech, I believe that Brie Bella will be “over” with him from here on out. Might be best to split up the Bella Twins for good so that both can have their own individual identities on-screen within the WWE.

Being honest here… Daniel Bryan‘s in-ring WWE return has changed my outlook for 2018. After a rough 2017 following the “Superstar Shake-up” failure to change-up the brand split rosters, I was nothing but “gloom & doom” regarding the WWE. Especially Smackdown which was becoming unwatchable to me with its awful booking and LACK of top drawing star power. Don’t give me Nakamura vs. AJ Styles because attendance since Royal Rumble 2018 has been awful for Smackdown since. Randy Orton, who is somehow the US Champion right now (LOL), isn’t a top drawing star by himself. We all know what happened with Jinder Mahal who couldn’t even draw in his own “home country” (not Canada, where his parents were from).

I just hope that Bryan can stay healthy…

I’ll write another column this week to give you my impressions of the first television based WWE show that I’ve been to since August 2005. It was the Pittsburgh RAW/Smackdown before SummerSlam 2005 where Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels had debate podiums or something like that. I may live Tweet at times, too, so be sure to follow me @titowrestling.

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$9.99 WWE Network Price… Too Low?

On Doc’s podcast, I alluded to how WWE Network‘s price at $9.99 per month could actually be TOO LOW as it relates to the costs of other goods/services. Just a follow-up on that point with some economics.

WWE Network started during February 2014 at $9.99 and with us now being in March 2018, the Network is 4 years old. Yet, during those 4 years, the WWE has never increased the price. One thing I’ve argued for a while that the move towards co-branding Pay Per Views again was due to internal WWE “burnout” from WWE’s ring crews, production trucks, writers, agents, and back offices (trying to book hotels, travels, etc.) tapping from doing 2 pairs of 3 straight day filmings of LIVE shows. With the price remaining at $9.99 but the WWE increasing their # of Pay Per View shows from 1 to 2, the WWE’s “bang for its buck” on the Network has declined and fans were getting a steal… At least in terms of content viewed by the subscriber. We can debate “quality” later.

If you look at the annual rate of Inflation (price growth) within the Consumer Price Index, here are the following inflation rates for the past 4 years:

2014 – 0.7%
2015 – 0.7%
2016 – 2.1%
2017 – 2.1%

If you take into account those growth rates while compounding the WWE Network‘s price growth with additional inflation growth (remember, I’m compounding these numbers):

2014: $9.99
2015: $10.06 (9.99 * 1.007)
2016: $10.12 (10.06 * 1.007)
2017: $10.33 (10.12 * 1.021)
2018: $10.55 (10.33 * 1.021)

$10.55 for 2018’s price? That’s not bad at all… Considering that we get the best WWE Pay Per Views (Rumble, Wrestlemania, SummerSlam) while getting at least 1 monthly WWE show with serious wrestling matches… Still a great deal.

But the question for the WWE is this… CAN they raise WWE Network prices?

In basic terms for the Law of Demand, it states simply that “price and quantity demanded have an inverse, indirect, or negative relationship for consumers”. In other words, when a firm INCREASES Prices (P), Consumer reactions could be that they DECREASE Quantity Demanded (Qd). In the opposite manner, if the firm DECREASES Prices (P), the likely result is that the Consumer INCREASES Quantity Demanded (Qd).

That doesn’t take into account, however, if the wrestling consumer has an increase in their willingness to pay MORE for WWE’s products (Change in Demand). There are factors normally held constant such as Tastes & Preferences, Income, of # of Consumers. If ANY of them have increased, that will cause the consumer to be WILLING to PAY MORE for WWE’s products.

And that is where my obsession with wrestling fans watching LIVE Monday Night RAW on USA Network comes into play. In my opinion, the LIVE Cable/Satellite version of RAW spells out consumer demand on whether they REALLY want to see RAW immediately or not. If they really love the WWE, they’ll clear out their free time and dedicate it to the WWE. Hell, they’d be willing to retain their Cable/Satellite service just to keep watching content on the USA Network. Fact is that during early 2015, WWE Monday Night RAW was doing just above 4 million viewers. Through early 2018, we’re just above 3 million viewers during Wrestlemania season. That is a clear reduction in demand to see the WWE LIVE on television.

Then, you have live attendance. Aside from the Big 3 Pay Per Views, many Pay Per Views, RAW/Smackdown television shows, and especially houseshows have lost attendance at more than 1,000 per show since 2014. Fewer are attending live WWE shows as their demand to see the WWE product live has decreased. HOWEVER, the WWE knows that they have a “core” audience that is very dedicated and loyal. Where the WWE has financially covered for the lost attendance is by RAISING prices. Think of how a Monopoly could operate… They are the only provider of pro wrestling in town and yet they will face a different pricing power than a firm with many strong competitors. I just heard that New Japan had just under 100,000 subscribers to their New Japan World product and that only 25,000 new subscribers were created as a result of Chris Jericho vs. Kenny Omega. Yeah, NJPW is not even close… WWE is dominant in the wrestling world and is also embedded within pop culture.

This is where we get into a unique situation with WWE fans… How RESPONSIVE are they to a change in price? If you take a Microeconomics course, you’ll learn about this term called “Elasticity” which measures the consumer’s responsiveness to a change to the price (change in Quantity / Change in Price). Casual fans are VERY responsive to a change in price and that’s why WWE’s pre-2014 Pay Per View price hikes scared away fans. That is also why the WWE Network at just $9.99 has done well because the lower monthly price compared to Pay Per Views is one hell of a bargain. Yet, loyal fans are NOT responsive to a change in price and the WWE particularly knows this for LIVE attendance members. They’ve jacked up the prices and you’re still willing to pay for it.

WWE has this weird mix of Casual and Loyal fans to contend with in terms of pricing the WWE Network. They KNOW that they’ve lost 1,000,000 RAW viewers and thousands in attendance… Yet, the WWE knows that they raised LIVE Event prices and loyal fans are still paying for it. WWE is playing a game in Mathematics where the quantity part of Total Revenue has decreased yet the price has gone up. Depending the size of the price increase, it could very well offset any losses in quantity due to the change in price boosting your $ per attendee at the live event significantly.

WWE Network sticking at $9.99 tells me that the WWE has fears of losing subscribers in spite of fan loyalty. I believe that the WWE feels that hosting additional Pay Per Views just isn’t worth the effort and the burnout.

If I were running the WWE Network and keeping it at $9.99, I would consider running more advertisements on the Network to test how much viewers are willing to endure. If subscribers do not change after the Advertisements are implemented, try more commercials. Ration that existing supply by placing more ads in front of their faces yet delivering what appears to be a “cheap” low cost WWE Network at $9.99. You would never have to fear if changing the price could possibly lose fans per the Law of Demand.

I hope that made sense?

But if you presented me with $10.55 as the WWE Network’s price, I’d definitely pay that. And so would you.

SO JUST CHILL… ‘TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!

Comments and feedback are welcome. Follow and Tweet me @titowrestling or login in below to post comments.

Bookmark Mr. Tito’s Column Archive to read the current and past columns.

© Mr. Tito and LordsofPain.net/WrestlingHeadlines.com – 1998-2018

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