Movie Stars and Gossip
The long awaited WWE Network is now official – it will launch on Monday February 24th as a device based on-demand and unique content channel.
The big news is that all WWE pay per views, including Wrestlemania, will be shown in the device subscription. At a cost of just $9.99 a month, this represents great value to fans who are used to paying $40 dollars plus for PPV’s. When you add the on-demand classic content into this package, the subscription represents an absolute bargain for both casual and committed wrestling fans alike. There will also be some new content, although at this stage, that could be an area of improvement going forward.
The Network announcement came last night in Las Vegas, to much fanfare that was stoked by the likes of the appearing Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon. The key points emphasized are –
– A subscription is $9.99 a month, with a 6 month commitment. The network launches on February 24th and fans can sign up for a one week free trial.
– Past WWE, WCW and ECW pay per view / televised content will be available on demand. This will likely be released over time after broadcasting on the dedicated rolling channel first.
– There will be some unique content. ‘Legends house’ a reality style broadcast, a Monday Night War broadcast, WWE countdowns and Wrestlemania retrospects.
– NXT and Superstars will be featured. Raw and Smackdown will be available later in the week after appearing on regular television first. There will be pre-show and post-show coverage on Raw and Smackdown. There will be a live studio show, which done right could be very good I reckon.
– The launch will have over 1500 hours of on demand available. It will keep mostly to a PG theme, but will be “uncut and uncensored” for classic content which will carry a 14+ warning. Parental settings will enable management of such content.
– The network will work across various devices including Playstation 3, tablets and smartphones. Think of something like Netflix and you will get the idea of how this should work.
– There will be some sponsorship and ads – but WWE say most shows will be commercial free.
– Pay per view will still be available by the traditional means for those not wanting to sign up to the network.
– All programming will be in HD.
– This service is in conjunction with MLB Advanced Media. Independent sources are reporting that they are very well regarded in the area of internet performance, with ESPN already a major client. MLB will manage the streaming, infrastructure, development and operations. Needless to say, any teething problems or technical issues with pay per view could kill this thing dead – WWE need to get it right.
– This will go worldwide toward the end of 2014 into 2015. It will just be America for now.
– “Today is a historic day for WWE as we transform and re imagine how we deliver our premium live content and 24/7 programming directly to our fans around the world,” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & Chief Executive Officer. “WWE Network will provide transformative growth for our company and unprecedented value for our fans.”
In terms of immediate reaction, it has been very positive. This is a hugely good value deal for WWE fans. Forget the uninspiring channel content, this is all about the savings you are going to make on pay per view. The on demand service is also a huge bonus. Granted you can find a lot of classic WWE content for free on Youtube etc, but the company is sure to pull all that down – and it will be so much more fun enjoying it in the HD presentation of WWE Network.
This is just the start for the WWE Network. It will grow tremendously over the next two years, leading to improved unique channel content and other innovations. The discussion shows sound like they could be entertaining if WWE don’t present them in an over the top kayfabe manner. Done right and this could be great as a channel in its own right. There are however some concerns that the Network will have to deal with- what does this mean for traditional broadcast deals? Are PPV sales and DVD sales going to be killed?
Right now though it is a time for wrestling fans to celebrate. This is a huge development in the wrestling industry, and everyone should be a winner from this. WWE deserves credit for showing cutting edge ambition as an entertainment company, this is a brave industry move, the type that UFC usually leads the way in for sports entertainment. It’s a game changer. WWE is once again leading the way for being a industry innovator in the field of entertainment.
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