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FLOSLAM DEAD

By Mike Johnson on 2017-11-29 21:56:00

Flosports made the decision today to shutter their Floslam streaming service, laying off their staff and closing the door on its attempt to become a destination for professional wrestling fans.

Officially launched in October 2016 and based out of Austin, Texas, Floslam had been designed to become a major streaming subscription content hub with the idea of signing deals with a number of top independent professional wrestling companies and placing them under one umbrella.   

Despite announcing in August of 2016 that its parent company Flosports had "received $21.2 million in new funding to accelerate the online sports network’s growth into new sports and expand its existing verticals" from a number of investors, including World Wrestling Entertainment, the attempt to build a Floslam just never clicked. 

On paper and from a financial standpoint, the concept should had everything going for it to the point that some expected Floslam would have the backing to change the landscape of pro wrestling.  The theory went like this: Floslam would pay a top premium price for indy promotion content and possibly even professional wrestlers (by putting specific wrestler under contract and farming him/her out to Floslam partner promotions.)  By doing so, they would drive up the worth of independent wrestling content.  In execution, it never really got out of the starting gate. 

Despite its best efforts, Flosports were unable to secure deals with Ring of Honor or New Japan Pro Wrestling, both of which would have been major attractions for the service.  An attempt to reach a deal with Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (which was never even an option given the way PWG's business model works, as the promotion is set up as a nexus that exists just outside of contractual obligations for various promotions) was equally fruitless.  No deals with any of the major lucha groups were signed.

Instead, the service ended up hanging its hat on a seven figure deal with WWNLive, Inc.  That deal led to WWN producing five live events per month for the service, becoming its cornerstone.  As well documented, that relationship ended just a year into the signed five year agreement with Flosports alleging in a lawsuit that WWN had misled them on how many iPPV buys the company was doing on its own streaming service, leading to WWN being overpaid for their content.     Whether Floslam was tricked into wrongly overpaying or not is a matter for the courts to decide, but at the end of the day, they put all their eggs in the WWNLive basket and it didn't pan out.   In fact, all the WWNLive deal really accomplished out of the gate was sparking WWE signing deals with PROGRESS and ICW for a potential WWE Network tiered-system that still has yet to launch.

Other promotions, including House of Hardcore, had agreements that saw multiple events streamed live via Floslam before moving on, while others streamed their events as unique, one time specials.     While there was great excitement early for the concept of the service among independent promoters, especially when word made the rounds about WWN's seven figure deal, that was greatly tempered when it was obvious the major money went to WWNLive as they were first in line to sign and everyone that followed were getting lesser and lesser deals.  In fact, there were a few independent companies that turned their offers down, feeling that locking themselves in to deals that could potentially see them lose access to ROH and other companies' talent wasn't worth the risk, even short-term.

The pricing was an error from day one in my opinion.  Priced at $20 a month ot $150 for a year (more than most major streaming services, including Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime AND the WWE Network), Floslam was going to be a hard sell unless it had top, premium talent.  Without the major groups signing on, that price point was out of wack with what fans were realistically willing to spend.  When the company raised the monthly price to $30 without notice, they likely went past the point of no return when it came to servicing their potential audience.  WWE had changed the price point for what fans were willing to pay for top notch, slicky produced pro wrestling content with the WWE Network - how could Floslam realistically expect fans to pay $20-$30 for independent wrestling shows that had no real production value or lighting, despite costing double or triple of the industry leader?

The rollout for the service was, in many ways, completely haphazard one as well, absent of any sort of promotion or marketing plan for the service (for example, PWInsider.com never received ONE press release from Flosports about the service and never once received any email inquiries returned) and featured a confusing rollout that saw Flosports' Roku platform crash depending on what Roku device you would be using, a failure to expand to other streaming device platforms, a basic interface hat made it impossible to easily seek out specific content.  Staffing changes in management only helped to fuel a vortex that never allowed the service a chance to even course-correct.  They had put a plane in the air without any landing gear and proceeded to then shove the pilots out the door.

None of these made the paid subscription service something that was going to earn positive word of mouth and as noted, there was no major marketing or advertising campaign to create awareness of the service.   Whatever buzz and following Floslam had, it was based specifically on whatever buzz there was for that week's WWN and House of Hardcore event, not the other way around.  Once out of the gate, other than providing a home for the live streaming events, there was really nothing done to increase the reach of Floslam by Flosports.  Not only was the plane in the air doomed, everyone shrugged once they realized it was.

After the lawsuit against WWNLive was filed, Floslam made all of the WWN content free for all (possibly in an attempt to hurt the value of the content elsewhere), all of the streaming content's live events schedule was canceled and in recent weeks, it acted as a site that featured news, columns and podcasts.   In what is a completely maddening and unfair turn of events, the staff that was hired to populate Floslam with content was laid off today, despite the fact that none of the deals and none of the fallout of those deals had anything to do with them.   To me, that's a completely disgusting situation.  I don't know any of the staff that were hired on any level, but these were people who were trying to feed their family with their work and believed they were getting into bed with a legitimate streaming provider that was going to be in business for a long term.  They were sought out by Floslam and made the decision to take the plunge.  All they did was go to work and in the end, they got screwed over - weeks before Christmas.  I feel horrible for them on a personal level, despite having never spoken to any of them.  They deserved better than Floslam gave them and everyone involved in the treatment of the staff should be Goddamned ashamed of themselves.

Back in 2016, I wrote, "There has been some great excitement within certain circles as to a new money player putting some money into independent wrestling promotion.  Over the next week or so, we should have a greater understanding of exactly what this all means and how much, if at all, this will be change the landscape of the independent realm, but it is certainly an interesting development."

At the end of the day, Flosports changed the landscape, but for the worse  There were hopes Floslam was going to change the business for the better on the independent scale.  Some decreed that was going to happen before the service signed one deal. 

Instead, the story of Floslam will just be another story we recount about "what could have been" if the right people had been involved, if the right deals had been made and had they actually tried to make it work instead of spending some money and waiting for everyone to rush to subscribe.    Instead, what's left?  A lot of money spent, a lawsuit against WWN, a situation with Joey Styles that left him so disgusted he fled pro wrestling for good, missed opportunities that for some promotions may never come back around, goodwill on all sides that has been destroyed and most importantly, a group of wrestling fans who got their hopes up only to have those hopes ruined, disappointing all who cared to invest their time and money on the service.  

What's left is yet another big crater of regret in the minefield that is professional wrestling.  What's left is a huge trail of doubt and destruction that will no doubt give the next potential big backer reason to give pause before wanting to better professional wrestling on an independent level.  That will be the legacy of Floslam, whether anyone involved wants to personally admit it or place the blame on the next person.

Floslam: 2016 - 2017.

Full disclosure: I was a paid annual subscriber to Floslam until they canceled their live content.

Mike Johnson can be reached at MikeJohnsonPWInsider@gmail.com.  He suggests the Highspots Wrestling Network for your streaming enjoyment.

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