Originally published at POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: Netflix's decline and the future of streaming
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POST DAILY NEWS SHOW
Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics Radio chats AEW Dynamite ratings, his recent breakdowns of the AEW and WWE metrics, and his reaction to the story involving Netflix and its big stock drop after a loss of subscribers this past quarter.
On the show, we discussed the huge decline Netflix sustained over the past several days after their quarterly earnings reported a loss of 200,000 subscribers and a forecast of two million more subscribers expected to be gone during the next quarter. This led to a giant 36 percent drop in the company’s stock this week which was trading just over $348 on Tuesday and is down to under $216 per share.
Naturally, it’s led to many analyses over the future of streaming and whether this signals the plateau for the giant of the industry at approximately 222 million subscribers worldwide. The company is indicating a crackdown on password sharing with an estimate of 100 million homes using the service without paying for it, to grow its base. The service is also expected to add an ad-supported tier.
Over the next few years, media companies are going to have to determine what sector of business will be the most advantageous and whether they are trading in one lucrative area (cable) for a less profitable one (streaming). Many believed that, over time, streaming would replace cable. However, data shows that watching a program on television is still the dominant habit when we see breakdowns of cable versus streaming, although the latter is growing. If the Netflix results are indicative of a ceiling, will it harness the aggressiveness of other media companies towards their streaming service?
The way streaming is going will suggest that in time there will be a finite number of dominant players (Netflix, Disney, HBO Max, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime) and the smaller ones either merging or going the way of CNN+. If you’re ESPN, cable homes are shrinking but not at a rate where throwing in the towel seems like a sound financial move. The cable giant is still in roughly 76 million homes and the calculus is how low that number gets before you prioritize ESPN+ over the linear cable network? The reasonable conclusion would be striking a balance where cable is still the cash cow that has yet to run dry and continuing to nurture your streaming efforts. There may come a day where ESPN+ is the superior delivery method, but that is certainly not today where the difference in ESPN’s cable homes and ESPN+ subscribers is roughly sixty million in cable’s favor – even if long-term, an ESPN+ subscriber delivers more revenue than a cable subscriber by eliminating the middle man in cable providers.
From the perspective of UFC, WWE, and AEW, I would not be quick to look at an all-streaming world as viable long-term. While streaming will be a major component of all these future deals, having a presence on network or cable television is still necessary to grow one’s audience and reach those that are not going to convert. Specific to WWE, if they were to receive the deal of a lifetime to make Raw exclusive to Peacock, it would have a damaging effect with its largest audience of 50+ – a demo which Brandon Thurston has studied and has not declined compared to other younger demos on cable. If you’re ESPN, the gamble is making selective choices that would convert that audience, but it’s hardly guaranteed they will adopt new technology and could become a lost audience.
The areas to watch for Netflix are what measures are taken to curb this loss in shareholder confidence and if this expedites a move to live sports programming (something Nick Khan has stated “is only a matter of when”), which creates another big player for all the major rights holders that are looking for additional bidders. Given the huge success of “Drive to Survive” on the platform and the F1 U.S. domestic rights coming due after this season with ESPN, that would be an obvious choice to test out if I was Netflix and wanted to dip my toe into something approximating live sports and would not be a drastic investment to license.
The best thing for AEW is for the emerging streaming platforms to be aggressive in gobbling up rights from each other and spending big money for market share. AEW is not going to be near the top of the totem pole but they have a young audience and have shown growth that comes at a bargain compared to WWE’s value and the audience being brought to the table.
The Netflix news is fresh and you are seeing extreme reactions from the stock drop but it’s hard to ascertain whether this week represents a demarcation point regarding its ceiling, or this leads to a transformation of Netflix’s business to find growth in unexplored areas such as live sports, news, gaming, the metaverse, etc.
**Friday Night SmackDown will hold a double taping at the MVP Arena in Albany, New York tonight due to the SmackDown crew holding shows in the U.K. next week. With two weeks of television written, we should have a sense of the complete WrestleMania Backlash card after tonight’s tapings, at least on the SmackDown side. The key one is Roman Reigns’ program for Backlash as he doesn’t have an opponent beyond the tease with Shinsuke Nakamura two weeks ago that wasn’t followed up last week. The following matches have been announced for tonight:
*Contract signing between Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey
*Lumberjack Match: Drew McIntyre vs. Sami Zayn
*Riddle vs. Jey Uso
*Madcap Moss vs. Angel
**Here are the matches airing on AEW Rampage tonight at 10 p.m. ET on TNT, which were taped on Wednesday in Pittsburgh:
*Owen Hart Cup Qualifying Match: Adam Cole vs. Tomohiro Ishii
*Lance Archer vs. Serpentico
*Daniel Garcia vs. Eddie Kingston
*TBS Championship: Jade Cargill (champion) vs. Marina Shafir
**IMPACT Wrestling returns to pay-per-view on Saturday night from the Majed J. Nesheiwat Convention Center (the former Mid-Hudson Civic Center) in Poughkeepsie, New York. The show is built around Josh Alexander finally receiving a rematch for the IMPACT title against Moose. Alexander won the title from Christian Cage last October at Bound for Glory but was immediately pinned by Moose, who cashed in his ‘Call Your Shot’ title match on the spot and beat Alexander while his wife and child were standing in the ring. They have held off on the rematch for months, so this is a big match for IMPACT, and we’ll see if it correlates with additional interest. It is such a tough market for the non-WWE/AEW product and has less to do with the product presented but rather, supply and demand from a consumer base that can only buy and watch so much weekly wrestling. Below is the card for Saturday’s show, which streams on FITE TV:
*IMPACT Championship: Moose (champion) vs. Josh Alexander
*Knockouts Championship: Tasha Steelz (champion) vs. Rosemary
*AAA Reina de Reinas Championship: Deonna Purrazzo (champion) vs. Taya Valkyrie
*Eight-Team Elimination for Tag Team Championships: Violent by Design (champions) vs. TBA
*Jay White vs. Chris Sabin vs. Steve Maclin
*Jonathan Gresham vs. Eddie Edwards
*JONAH vs. Tomohiro Ishii
*Knockouts Tag Team Championships: Madison Rayne & Tenille Dashwood (champions) vs. The Inspiration (pre-show)
*X Division Championship: Trey Miguel (champion) vs. Ace Austin vs. Speedball Mike Bailey (pre-show)
**Fightful has reported that Darius Martin of Top Flight has suffered another injury and is expected to miss a lengthy amount of time. Martin had just returned from an ACL injury last month after being on the sidelines for a year. Martin returned to action on the March 2nd edition of Dynamite as part of the Casino Tag Team Battle Royale and last wrestled during the AEW Dark tapings last Friday in Garland, Texas. We send our best to Martin and hope he makes as quick a recovery as possible. The new injury is described as leg-related.
**Tony Khan was interviewed by Scott Fishman of TV Insider on a variety of topics. Khan reiterated his hope of Ring of Honor securing weekly television:
I think the end game is for Ring of Honor to have its own weekly TV and own distribution. Right now, there are so many great wrestlers in Ring of Honor that I think it makes sense to utilize them in our lineup of shows to keep those championship belts at the forefront and keep those champions in the spotlight.
We’ve had great support from WarnerMedia utilizing many different stars from wrestling companies all over the world. We’re very excited to have top stars and great champions from Ring of Honor in AEW also. We have ongoing conversations about the future distribution of the Ring of Honor shows.
Khan also expanded on his tweet from a week ago suggesting that various bot accounts are being activated to spread anti-AEW sentiment online:
What I’ve seen was a lot of anti-AEW accounts that are really focused on the things they don’t like. A lot of those are legitimate things. Some of those points I’m trying to address. Some of them I don’t agree with, but the point is a lot of these are the same people. There are a handful of accounts that are being run by a few people running a lot of accounts. Those are real people. A lot of their engagement, their retweets, likes, people responding, and signal boosting for what they are saying, those are bots. You got a network of a few people with a lot of identities powered by a bunch of bots. I’m not making this up. I have hired IT experts that put together a much more sophisticated explanation than I’m capable of giving. It’s a real thing, or I wouldn’t have brought it up. I have a pretty good reputation in this business for honesty.
**C*4 Wrestling out of Ottawa, Ontario runs a show tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET that is available through IWTV. The promotion noted on Friday that Jonathan Gresham was cleared earlier this week and will wrestle on tonight’s show. Gresham was injured during the Battle of the Belts taping last Friday and missed his weekend shows. Gresham will take on Kevin Blackwood on the C*4 show at St. Anthony’s Hall (529 St. Anthony Street). C*4 also noted that Jody Threat is unable to wrestle tonight after she was in a car accident, but the company stated she is okay. The company noted that all talent and staff are fully vaccinated, and masks are mandatory when you are not eating or drinking.
**Game Changer Wrestling has two shows this weekend. Tonight’s card airs at 8 p.m. ET on FITE TV from Columbus, Ohio with Effy & Allie Katch vs. 1 Called Manders & Levi Everett for the GCW tag titles, Joey Janela vs. John Wayne Murdoch, Alex Shelley vs. Jordan Oliver, Tony Deppen vs. Alex Colon, Blake Christian vs. Dante Leon, and The Second Gear Crew (Mance Warner, Matthew Justice & AJ Gray) vs. Billie Starkz, Cole Radrick & Calvin Tankman. Saturday’s card takes place from Harpo’s in Detroit with Minoru Suzuki vs. 2 Cold Scorpio, Joey Janela vs. Bandido, The Briscoes vs. Mance Warner & Matthew Justice, Alex Shelley vs. Nick Wayne, ACH vs. Chris Dickinson, John Wayne Murdoch vs. Hoodfoot, Effy & Allie Katch vs. ASF & Gringo Loco for the tag titles, and AJ Gray defends the Extreme title against Alex Colon.
**Warrior Wrestling has a show in South Bend, Indiana on Saturday night featuring its champion Will Ospreay defending the title against Blake Christian, Sam Adonis vs. Aramis for the Lucha title, Swerve Strickland vs. Adam Brooks, Athena vs. Skye Blue vs. Shazza McKenzie for the women’s title, Karl Fredericks vs. Clark Connors, and Alex Zayne vs. Storm Grayson.
**All Japan’s Champion Carnival continues with shows on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday in Chiba there will be A Block matches with T-Hawk against Shigihiro Irie and Jake Lee vs. Ryuki Honda and B Block matches involving Kento Miyahara against Yoshitatsu and Yuma Aoyagi vs. Kuma Arashi. On Sunday, it’s three A Block matches at Korakuen Hall with Jake Lee vs. T-Hawk, Shigehiro Irie vs. Shotaro Ashino, and Shuji Ishikawa vs. Ryuki Honda.
The A Block features a five-way tie with Lee, Ishikawa, Irie, T-Hawk, and Ashino with four points each while Honda has zero. The B Block is led by Suwama with five points with Takuya Nomura and Yuma Aoyagi at four points, Miyahara with three, and Arashi & Yoshitatsu at two each. The finals are on May 4th at Korakuen Hall.
**NJPW Strong on Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET has Yuya Uemura vs. Buddy Matthews, Blake Christian vs. Swerve Strickland, and Big Damo (Killian Dain in WWE) vs. John Skyler airing on New Japan World. That sounds like an exceptional lineup.
**NXT Level Up tonight at 10 p.m. ET on the WWE Network includes Bodhi Hayward vs. Dante Chen, Fallon Henley vs. Thea Hail, and Edris Enofe & Malik Blade vs. Damaris Griffin & Quincy Elliott.
**New Japan holds a show on Saturday in Ehime headlined by an eight-man tag with Hiroshi Tanahashi, Guerrillas of Destiny & Jado against EVIL, Yujiro, SHO & Dick Togo along with Kazuchika Okada & YOH against Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI.
**The WWE stock closed at $60.99 on Friday.
**Bellator is in Honolulu, Hawaii for shows on Friday & Saturday night at the Blaisdell Arena. The card on Saturday is the superior show while tonight’s event has one significant fight with Julianna Velasquez defending the 125-pound championship against Liz Carmouche. Velasquez won the title from Ilima-Lei Macfarlane in December 2020 and defended it once last July but remains unbeaten. Carmouche is 38-years old and this is really her last opportunity at a major promotion’s championship. After leaving the UFC, she has gone 3-0 in Bellator with wins against DeAnna Bennett, Vanessa Porto, and Kana Watanabe. Carmouche was involved in the first women’s fight in UFC history when she challenged Ronda Rousey for the UFC bantamweight title at UFC 157 in February 2013 at the Honda Center in Anaheim where she was submitted but did threaten Rousey with a neck crank.
Below is tonight’s card:
MAIN CARD (10 p.m. ET on Showtime, YouTube in Canada)
*Bellator Flyweight Championship: Julianna Velasquez (12-0) vs. Liz Carmouche (16-7)
*Bantamweight Grand Prix Wild Card: Enrique Barzola (17-5-2) vs. Nikita Mikhailov (9-1)
*Bantamweight Grand Prix Wild Card: Jornel Lugo (8-0) vs. Danny Sabatello (11-1)
*Christian Edwards (5-1) vs. Grant Neal (6-1)
*Manny Muro (12-7) vs. Nate Andrews (16-4)
*Preliminary card: Weber Almeida (5-1) vs. Fabricio Franco (8-4)
*Preliminary card: Makoa Cooper (1-0) vs. Blake Perry (0-0)
*Preliminary card: Dante Schiro (8-3) vs. Scotty Hao (4-3)
**Bellator 279 on Saturday is the major show of the weekend with Cris Cyborg defending the featherweight championship against Arlene Blencowe in a rematch from October 2020. In the first fight, Cyborg submitted Blencowe in the second round. The challenger rebounded with wins against Dayana Silva and Pam Sorenson, but the champion is a giant favorite with Draft Kings listing Cyborg as a -900 favorite. The main card also features Juan Archuleta vs. Raufeon Stots in the first round of the Bantamweight World Grand Prix with the winner becoming interim champion while Sergio Pettis is injured. The Grand Prix will also feature Kyoji Horiguchi (who is likely going to be favored to win the tournament) against Patchy Mix. The main card opens with hometown star Ilima-Lei Macfarlane fighting Justine Kish and undercard fights involving Yancy Medeiros and Goitci Yamauchi, so this is a very strong card from Bellator.
**The UFC Fight Night card takes place on Saturday from the Apex with all fighters making weight earlier today.
MAIN CARD (9 p.m. ET on ESPN+)
*Amanda Lemos (11-1-1) vs. Jessica Andrade (22-9) – Andrade is returning to strawweight in this fight, which is the division where she won the title in 2019. She has competed at flyweight for her last three bouts. Lemos was fighting at 135 pounds and cut down to 115 where she has gone 5-0 since December 2019. This would be the biggest win of Lemos’ career to beat the former champion.
*Clay Guida (37-21) vs. Claudio Puelles (11-2) – Guida has stated this is the final fight on his current UFC deal but is hopeful of re-signing. He has been fighting for the promotion since 2006 and won his last fight against Leonardo Santos.
*Chase Sherman (15-9) vs. Alexandr Romanov (15-0) – Sherman is replacing Tanner Boser on several days’ notice
*Maycee Barber (9-2) vs. Montana De La Rosa (12-6-1) – Barber suffered two losses back-to-back and is coming off a narrow split decision against Miranda Maverick in her last fight
*Lando Vannata (12-5-2) vs. Charles Jourdain (12-4-1)
PRELIMINARY CARD (6 p.m. on ESPN+)
*Preston Parsons (9-3) vs. Evan Elder (4-0)
*Marc-Andre Barriault (13-5) vs. Jordan Wright (12-2)
*Dwight Grant (11-4) vs. Sergey Khandozhko (27-6-1)
*Tyson Pedro (7-3) vs. Ike Villaneuva (18-13) – This is Pedro’s first fight since December 2018
*Aori Qileng (18-9) vs. Cameron Else (10-5)
*Philipe Lins (14-5) vs. Marcin Prachnio (15-5)
*Dean Barry (4-1) vs. Mike Jackson (1-1)
**The PFL began its season this past Wednesday and was highlighted by a terrific main event between Clay Collard and Jeremy Stephens. I watched the fight and it was certainly among the best fights of the year, so far. The output from Collard was incredible with over 300 strikes thrown throughout the three-round fight, although Stephens had a much higher percentage of shots landed and the differential in strikes landed was minimal. I had Collard winning all three rounds as he varied his attack and had a lot of success with his knee strikes and heavier volume of combinations while Stephens’ best moments were limited to single strikes but had several uppercuts that landed flush. Stephens was competitive throughout the fight and I never sensed a sequence where you could make the argument for a stoppage. Stephens has absorbed a lot of damage throughout his career and is winless in the past four years, although the quality of opposition has been significant during that stretch. He is in a must-win scenario in his next outing if he hopes to make the playoffs. The positive of the PFL system is that you can lose a fight and come back and earn a maximum of six points, so he’s alive.
I enjoy the format of PFL, and they have signed some impressive fighters in various weight classes. If there is a negative, it’s the same as Bellator during its tournament era where a big fight might present itself and you’re harnessed to this rigid format, although PFL has not encountered that example whereas Bellator had a glaring one after the first Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler fight. Everyone wanted to see the rematch immediately, but they only awarded title fights to tournament winners.
**Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has announced he is injured and unable to fight Marvin Vettori in June. The two were set to meet at UFC 275 in Singapore with ESPN reporting that Vettori’s management stated he is unlikely to remain on the June 11th card. Whittaker did not specify what injury he sustained but that he’ll be able to compete a few months later.
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