I tend to agree with WWN officials that the FloSports lawsuit was a scare tactic as outlined by their lawyer Sam Heller is WWN’s official response to the lawsuit. The lawsuit is very vague and seems to be an attempt on FloSports’s behalf to get out of the deal. It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens when this lawsuit goes to court. Both sides were clearly unhappy with each other. FloSports was unsatisfied with the subscription numbers and WWN was unsatisfied by the methods FloSports promoted and distributed their content.
FloSlam has been terrible at public relations in recent months. They had no voice on social media once former FloSlam managing editor Jeremy Botter was fired. They never advertised the WWN product effectively or attempted to work with media outlets to promote indie events. On the other hand, EVOLVE has effectively lost all of the buzz it had built up before making an agreement with FloSlam. EVOLVE’s buzz was trending down a bit when they started with FloSlam, but they were still a hot product thanks to the quality of their shows and the buzz from WWE plugging their talent and events on WWE’s website and through WWE’s social media channels. The $20 per month price point, which went up to $30 and then back down to $20 earlier this year was a PR nightmare as well for FloSports.
If Flosports’s accusations against WWN about inflating their iPPV/VOD numbers are correct, WWN officials will lose any hope they have of maintaining any kind of a relationship with WWE going forward. WWN VP and EVOLVE booker Gabe Sapolsky appears to have developed a relationship with WWE on his own in recent months, as he has been invited to the NXT Performance Center and has been serving as a consultant backstage at most NXT TV tapings and Takeover specials. That relationship would surely end if WWN is found to be negligent in the reporting of their iPPV/VOD buys to FloSports.
FloSports and WWN were on equal footing from a PR standpoint until FloSports pulled the EVOLVE PPVs off FloSlam this weekend. This will certainly ensure that FloSlam has a black mark on their product, as nobody is going to pay for an OTT streaming service with no premium wrestling content.
I was skeptical of the potential of FloSlam from the beginning. The company willingly threw a ton of money at WWN and the word going around when FloSlam launched was that they had a millions and millions of dollars to spend to build up the service. The bottom line is that there is very little money to be made off of indie wrestling and as buzzworthy as EVOLVE was when they entered into an agreement with FloSports, there’s was simply no chance that that an investment of millions of dollars in EVOLVE and potentially others brands like ROH, PWG, and NJPW without a knowledgeable management group behind it.
From talking to multiple sources, it is clear that FloSports management was not prepared or experienced enough in wrestling to effectively execute their business plan. Pro Wrestling and especially indie wrestling can not be promoted like the other sports featured on FloSports’s lineup. Former FloSlam Managing Editor Jeremy Botter did a great job with the launch of the site, but it fizzled out quickly once he was fired.
The original vision for the site was great. A combination of WWN, ROH, NJPW, and PWG content along with other indie promotions would have been great for all wrestling fans. In addition to the mismanagement of the FloSlam, WWE swept in and took several key potential partners for FloSlam off the table. ROH even went as far to forbid their contracted talent from working on shows that were broadcast on FloSlam at one point.
For whatever reason, the money FloSports was spending initially disappeared. One promoter told me earlier this year he was offered under $300 to broadcast his event live on iPPV, which is a far cry from the figures associated with FloSlam’s deal with EVOLVE.
It seems silly for FloSports to ask for concrete figures after entering into a deal with WWN. It’s just not good business to enter into a deal worth millions of without seeing concrete figures in front of them. It’s a shame that a great concept like FloSlam ended up where it is today, but the signs were there early that things were early on that throwing millions of dollars into an OTT indie service without solid backing from management was a bad idea from the beginning.