Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Selling It Wrong

Longtime readers of this blog will know that I am a huge fan of Professional Wrestling. Not the world's biggest fan, mind you, but I love the stuff. I'm not going to try to defend my love here, because that's not what I'm here about.

Early last year, the WWE launched a new product. The WWE Network. For $9.99 per month, you can live-stream a ton of original programming, and have access to a massive on-demand library. In fact, every program that they live stream is added to the on-demand library as soon as it ends. And that on-demand library includes every WWE PPV to date. And every WCW PPV. And every ECW PPV. And a ton of episodes of the various shows that they've had over the years.

And the current PPVs. I watched TLC live a few weeks ago. Late this month, I'm going to have some friends over and we're going to watch Royal Rumble.

It's an amazing deal if you like wrestling.  In fact, the only complaint I have with it is the fact that the current episodes of Raw and Smackdown won't be on the Network for 30 days. And there are a few gaps in the archives (odd weeks/months where archived episodes haven't been digitized, yet).

But - by far - the best thing on the network is NXT. It's the WWE's developmental division. It's a smaller roster of performers who are hungry for the big stage. Because the roster is smaller, they're telling deeper stories with longer payoffs.  And it's amazing.

The network is available in a number of ways:

  • It's part of the WWE Android App (the same app is in the Amazon Appstore for use on Kindle Fire devices). I suspect it's usable with the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, but I'm honestly not sure. I know there's a version of the app specifically for Fire TV.
  • It's available on Roku
  • It's on PS3 and XBox 360 (and may be on the new generation of devices, too ... )

When they launched the network, hardcore fans like myself bought in immediately.  I've had an account since the day it went live. $10 for every single PPV ever and a ton of history and other specials? Sign me up.

This network is the future in a lot of ways. With more and more "cord-cutters," people who advertise on television are having a harder time getting eyeballs on their product. People want online options that are on-demand. Hulu and Netflix are both doing booming business. Amazon Instant Video is awesome, too - and, if you're a Prime member, it's even better.

So how is the WWE promoting this awesome product during its shows?

By turning the price into a catchphrase.  They're not telling us what it contains. They're not pushing the content.  They're pushing the price. Relentlessly.  And this isn't the only time they did this, either. To the point where we started seeing it become a fan meme. Crowd signs showed the price.  Even the opposition took a swing at them over how stupid it was to spend five minutes chanting a price at us without telling us why we should buy.

Their target right now is (and should be) fence-sitters. People who watch the shows regularly and who might buy a pay-per-view or two per year, but who don't see the benefit of paying $9.99/month for additional content.

They're marketing it wrong, in other words.

Now, I'm not a marketing expert. I don't do advertising for a living. Hell, I'm not even a salesperson. But even I can see that their marketing isn't doing so well.  It's been a year and they have yet to break the million subscriber mark.

What should they do?

Let us know what we get for our $9.99. Bring in a couple of the NXT guys to have a match (which they've done a time or two), and then tell us we can watch these guys weekly or on demand on the WWE Network. When reviewing history for a PPV, remind us "You can watch all of these moments on-demand on the WWE Network." Show us snippets and previews of some of the specials and other programming - and tell us, "You can watch this and more on the WWE Network."

Don't push the price on us - tell us what we get.

So how is this relevant to gaming and the usual focus of this blog?

When you have a new game that you want to get to the table, how do you pitch it to your players? "Hey! Check out this new $33 game I got! Wanna play?"

- OR -

"Hey, check out this new RPG! You play as Samurai on motorcycles who were recently on the losing side of a war!"

That's ... pretty clear to me.

There's a reason why, when we're at GenCon, we don't tell prospective customers, "Come and check out this $30 game!"  That'd be silly, right? Yes, there are customers who want pricing up-front because they have a budget, but they're few and far between.

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