Wednesday, January 8, 2014

WWE Network Announced

It's here
Photo via International Object, design by John Lefteratos
The WWE's "groundbreaking announcement" that happened at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, NV at 9:30 EST tonight, was to herald the launch of the WWE Network. The Network will launch on February 24, 2014 at 11:05 PM, and it will cost $9.95 per month with a six month commitment. It will be available as an "over-the-top" service to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It was announced that the Network will be available on all platforms: tablets, mobile phones, computers, Roku, X-Box, and Playstation included.

The list of content available is extensive. First, all WWE pay-per-view events will air live on the Network at no additional cost to the subscriber, including WrestleMania. The first PPV event to be offered, in fact, will be WrestleMania XXX. In addition, all archival pay-per-views in WWE's library, including WCW and ECW events, will be offered on demand. NXT will be aired on the Network, as well as a slate of original programming. Shows featured during the presentation were the long-awaited Legends House and a show based on documenting the Monday Night Wars. Also, RAW and Smackdown replays will be offered.

Now, for my thoughts. Leaks suggested the Network would be announced tonight, but I had no idea the amount of goods and services to be offered. WWE went above and beyond my expectation. If I wanted to be really nasty, I could say that they've had this in development for more than three years now, so of course they'd have to have their shit together on it. However, the comprehensive nature in their offering is comforting. They've laid the groundwork.

The content offered is staggering as well. I hoped for "B" pay-per-views, and I had heard that 11 of 12 would be offered, but throwing in WrestleMania is the ace in the hole here. WWE is looking not only to draw in new, younger fans, but by offering everything including Mania, they seem to be casting the net for older fans as well.

Launching the Network was a bold move, a game-changer if it succeeded. One could point to stuff like the XFL or World Bodybuilding Federation, but I think it's clear that when distribution of the core product is in play, Vince McMahon and WWE are at their sharpest. This move isn't trying to compete with a megalith or looking to explore a niche using the wrong technique. WWE is actually acting to advance in the field they know well. The WWF took immeasurable risks with pay-per-view and Monday Night RAW, both of which paid off. I'm not saying the Network will definitely be a boon for the company. However, the way they've offered the product at launch tells me that they aren't playing around with the odds on this venture.