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#KillThatNoise — FloSports Isn’t Done With Pro Wrestling Yet

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The experiment is over for now. The unsuccessful launch of FloSlam and court battle between FloSports and the World Wrestling Network has left fans with many questions. Is the up-and-coming sports media disruptor out of the squared circle for good?

On September 15th, FloSports sued WWN for falsifiying data documents and providing misleading pay-per-view information during the negotiation period. The deal between FloSports and WWN along with the launch of FloSlam came in nearly three months according to documents made public during the proceedings. The story, first broken by wrestling journalist, David Bixenspan, is perplexing to say the least. The data initially provided to FloSports missed crucial information such as how PPV buys were tallied by WWN prior to negotiation. In consequence, FloSports had no way of truly gauging how the service would perform since the information was not provided to them, but yet, they still offered WWN with a 5-year, $3+ million contract. The situation seems to get nastier by the day, but the legal proceedings are important for other companies wanting to hastily jump into the over-the-top steaming combat zone.

Originally launched in 2006, FloSports, created by brothers Mark and Martin Floreani, has become one of the more successful stories in sports media. Since 2012, the company has gradually taken steps to become the new age ESPN. With the advent of FloSlam, the Floreanis took a chance on expanding their subscriber base with pro wrestling much like ESPN did with the American Wrestling Alliance in the mid-to-late 80’s. Pro wrestling may not provide the type of ad revenue that the NBA, NFL or MLB, but it has historically maintained a steady number of viewers on networks. For WWN, the service was definitely an upgrade in terms of money and potential audience reach, but Flo did a terrible job of marketing to fans and using its power outside of the pro wrestling to lure in new viewers.

FloSlam was supposed to be the hub for most of the hottest acts on the indy scene, but Ring Of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerilla and others simply decided to either launch their own platforms or continue to minimize live airings for the sake of continued customer demand. PWG has become one of the hottest events in wrestling simply because it does not air on the internet, but has top-tier talent on every card. ROH plans on launching its own OTT platform sometime in 2018. While FloSports was not much of a name for most paying wrestling fans, the WWN network was a good step in the right direction, but several key missteps kept the service from being what it could potentially become. While FloSlam was initially $20 monthly, some customers ended up paying $30 for a short time. Additionally, FloSlam was expensive compared to the WWE Network and other smaller OTT platforms. 

The Floreanis created a pro wrestling world for every sport that they hosted on FloSports — except for actual professional wrestling. The company was built on exploring and showcasing niche sports in a story-like manner. Swimmers, wrestlers, runners all had individual stories to tell which would intertwine with events to create these storylines that captivated viewers (or pulled in subscribers). They captured a different perspective for sports that otherwise wouldn’t get one eyeball on them. FloSports controlled the narrative of the events they produced, but much of what they had done in other sports was already being done in Evolve and on the independent wrestling scene most notably by the ultra-talented director and documentarian Kenny Johnson. Likewise, The Hardys, Zach Ryder, Colt Cabana and others were at the forefront of splicing real life with the scripted reality of pro wrestling. The newly relaunch National Wrestling Alliance is taking this concept a step further with its production of the “Ten Pounds of Gold” series. 

However, WWE’s investment in FloSports cannot be overlooked. WWE certainly keeps bedfellows with any company grasping for a piece of the proverbial OTT pie. WWE has ties to Evolve, but has remained neutral on the sitiuation. Even with drastically lower ratings than even 5 years ago, the WWE is still a broadcast titan with some of television’s most loyal fans. With content worth billions of dollars, WWE and FloSports could potentially work together in the coming years, but obviously on a drastically different scale. While WWE’s TV rights deal will be up in early 2018, a new home for its two flagship shows may not be out of the question. With ESPN retooling and simmering down on its wrestling related content, the only other true options for WWE programming would be USA and FS1. But the long-term future of WWE programing will eventually be through a steaming service and FloSports has the top seat at the table. 

Right now, The FloSports brand is learning about timing and opportunity which are two essentials for being successful at pro wrestling. #KillThatNoise

Follow me @WillMarelle on Twitter

Shannon is a proud product of Detroit, Michigan. He's a connoisseur of all things hip-hop and pro wrestling and often compares the two forms of entertainment. He's a feature writer for FightBoothPW and also a corporate nomad.

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