Vince McMahon’s dream to expand his sports-entertainment empire through a dedicated cable channel appears very much in doubt.
Faced with numerous outstanding hurdles, Wrestlezone.com reports Thursday that plans for the WWE Network have been indefinitely placed on hold. Although WWE’s television shows draw strong ratings, the organization has yet to strike a single deal with a cable or satellite-television provider to carry the channel one year after officially announcing its formation. And while WWE has considered making the network a pay-subscription channel, similar to HBO or Showtime, internal studies have shown less than 100,000 homes would be willing to pay a monthly fee.
WWE was expected to hire approximately 200 employees, including a general manager to run the channel. According to sources close to the head of its Human resources department and Vice President of programming, the company has issued a hiring freeze. It is said that any recent hires are in jeopardy of being terminated.
WWE initially timed the launch of the network for April 1, 2012 to coincide with its pay-per-view extravaganza, WrestleMania. The company even had a clock counting down to the April launch date on its site, which eventually disappeared. The launch was reportedly pushed to November 2012, then February 2013. Now, with the infrastructure set up as it is, the network will be virtually impossible to get off the ground within the next year.