The boys in Stamford have just made a bold move. The often mentioned but rarely shown, up until now anyway, WWE Network will finally become a reality. We were being teased about a network as far back as 2008. Last year we saw a ramp up of in-programming advertising from the company teasing the forthcoming network. It was, however, an uphill battle to get cable/satellite providers behind the idea.
Vince, instead, looked wisely to the Netflix model of subscription based premium content delivery. This how you do it folks. The backend comes through a partnership with MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) who has been delivering streaming content of Major League Baseball™ since 2002.
So, what are the main details you need to know?
- The WWE Network will cost you 9.99 a month. (Requires a six-month commitment per the official word of WWE).
- Available on nearly every mobile device imaginable, PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Roku, PS4, Xbox One and SmartTVs. Probably AppleTV as well.
- All Pay-Per-View events including Wrestlemania are included with this cost.
- Pre and post-shows for RAW and Smackdown will stream live with aforementioned shows streaming on-demand immediately after the live airing. NXT and Superstars will air live on the network.
- The WWE Library will be available for streaming on-demand to Network subscribers. This includes ALL WWE, WCW and even ECW events. Holy crap. More archival content will be added on a monthly basis to expand the library.
- Original programming including a daily studio show, The Monday Night War, Legends House, WWE Countdown and more to come in the future.
- Launches in the United States the 24th of Februrary at 9:00 AM EST. The UK, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the Nordics should have it by the end of 2014/early 2015.
This is a tremendous start and I know I will be jumping in day one. There is however the issue of long-term viability. Original programming has to blossom within the structure of the network. I love the amount of archived content that is going to be available and, from the looks of it, that includes a lot of the outstanding documentaries and specials they've done throughout the years, but it can't hinge on that.
This will serve as leverage for it's current television deals (which are not going away) same with the PPV-distribution deals they have in place with cable/satellite providers. That's found money for the providers so they're not giving that up any time soon. You know who just lost nearly all (if it had any to begin with) ability to negotiate better rates for television? TNA. The chief competitor to the WWE in terms of sports entertainment is already suffering from major financial issues as is. The launch of this network could be the final nail in the coffin. I wish this wasn't the case but, frankly, it isn't looking great for the other Federation out there.
This over-the-top (OTT) method of content delivery is clearly the way things are going. If this model works (and I think it most certainly will) I have to think that this is a big fucking deal for the television industry in general. Maybe HBO will stop fucking around and just go the same route. Maybe we'll see other content providers follow suit? I'd love that.
All I know is I'm not going to be paying 50 fucking dollars for every single PPV event and get all the other wrestling content I crave. I was sold the moment it was announced. I know I'm not alone in that feeling either.