11 March 2014

Could TNA benefit from a Pay What You Want model?

From their recent multi-year deals with NTV in Japan, Sony Six in India, the tremendous success of the 2014 UK Maximum Impact Tour and Dixie Carter teasing that they may be taking TNA to both Canada and France, there is no denying that TNA has taken great strides in this past year to bring their brand of wrestling to an international market.

TNA wrestling fans the World over are some of the most loyal and enthusiastic in the business, so is it time for us the international fans to put our money where our mouth is and be given the opportunity to show our support for TNA financially?

Whether it's recording artists putting out albums and asking fans to pay what they think is fair, or Kickstarter campaigns helping authors to get their books published, computer games made, or movies produced, there is a lot to be said for appealing to public support for financial backing.  Now I can't comment on how the TNA PPVs are shown in other territories outside of the USA, so I shall stick with the UK as an example.

If you live in the UK and own a freeview satellite box, you can watch every TNA PPV for free on ChallengeTV.  Granted these PPVs are not live and are shown a few days later than they air in the USA, but this is something that the UK audience is accustomed to with Impact also airing a few days later than in the States.  There is an option to watch the PPVs early if you are prepared to pay Youtube £25, but I have never seen this advertised by TNA and it would probably leave a sour taste in the mouths of their ChallengeTV partners if they began directing viewers away from their channel.  I am only speaking for myself here, but I would much rather wait a few days to watch a PPV on a big screen in the comfort of my lounge rather than huddled over my desk watching a poor quality Youtube video.

There are of course other ways for UK fans to financially support TNA, such as buying tickets for the UK tour and buying merchandise from the TNA shop, but if neither of these options are economically viable there should be another option for fans to contribute whatever they can in appreciation of what they are watching.  This is where I think a Pay What You Want model could come into play to provide a constant source of revenue from fans willing to show their support and loyalty.

TNA needn't make a big deal out of it, or sound like they are begging for money, just have a scrolling message on each PPV telling fans that they are under no obligation whatsoever but if they are enjoying what they are watching and can afford it, then feel free to show their support by making a voluntary payment for the PPV.  Flash up a link to their website where fans can pay however much they feel is fair or can afford at a few clicks of a mouse button.  Even if the current UK viewers only paid an average of 20p for a PPV, that is £60,000 in TNA's pocket.  It may not sound like a huge amount, but that's £60,000 more than they had the week before, and a decent years salary for someone.

I am not trying to sound like a martyr, and given the choice I doubt I'd pay a full £25 for every PPV they showed on ChallengeTV.  However, £5 will barely buy you two pints down the pub nowadays and I'd happily send that TNA's way instead for 3 hours of PPV action, and retrospectively pay even more depending on how much I enjoyed the show.

So how about it?  If it were an option, could you as an international fan ever be persuaded to voluntarily pay what you want for a PPV?

Could a PWYW model work in the USA?

I focused mainly on the international fans in this POV as a way for TNA to generate revenue where they aren't currently seeing any immediate financial gains for their televised PPVs, but I would also like to hear what people think of a PWYW model being used in the USA.

I don't have access to any of the figures on how much they currently make on their PPVs, but speculatively could a PWYW model be more profitable to a company looking to increase its market share than a flat out payment of $50?  Not only in terms of how much money they make on a PPV, but increasing their fanbase by providing an affordable alternative to fans that may already be paying for PPVs for other promotions.

I have heard some TNA fans saying that they couldn't afford the PPV fee for Lockdown, which is completely understandable.  So wouldn't it be better to give fans the option to pay a minimum concession for the PPV and the option to voluntarily pay more, rather than miss it altogether or watch it illegally somewhere?  Even with a PWYW model, TNA would obviously prefer that people pay the full asking price, but that is something that could be incentivized by making charitable donation pledges, offering discount codes for purchases in the TNA shop, or entrance into prize draws and competitions.

The biggest danger is that if they ever went this route and it didn't pay off, then it would be incredibly difficult to get out of it without causing an outrage amongst the fans.  In the long run though, could it ever lead to a situation whereby several million people were paying say a minimum $5 concession instead of only several thousand paying the full $50?

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