WWE broke ground with a monumental presentation earlier tonight in Las Vegas which officially unveiled the WWE Network, a 24/7 subscription digital streaming service launching Feburary 24th at 11:05pm eastern right after ‘WWE RAW’ goes off the air. Tonight’s presentation was a star-studded webcast with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, Degeneration X (Triple H & Shawn Michaels), and John Cena all appeared onstage in front a giant digital screen displaying what the Network will offer fans.
The WWE Network has been the publicly traded company’s biggest project for the last four years with millions being pumped into development, production, and research. The original concept was expected to be a premium cable TV service similar to HBO but according to Michelle Wilson, chief revenue and marketing officer for WWE a new digital strategy became more viable. “We did our research and said this is catching up faster than we expected,” said Wilson in an article with Variety.
WWE discovered through extensive research that the WWE fans consume five times the amount of digital content than the average online viewer and are more likely to own a subscription streaming service. “Over-the-top became a very viable option, so we said maybe we should rethink this and look at an alternative model where we would be in control of our own destiny.” said Wilson.
WWE Network also has some trusted tech-muscle behind this massive undertaking with MLB Advanced Media. This is the same company that handles the video streaming subscription services of Major League Baseball, ESPN, CBS Sports, and more. WWE including such a trusted streaming company is seen by many tech insiders as keen and wise maneuver.
Several key things were announced about the WWE network
The “Over the top” service will be both a 24/7 live channel with scheduled programming and an on-demand library with “over 100,000 hours” of content including every WWE, WCW, and ECW TV show. This includes over 300 classic pay per view events and replays of fresh episodes of RAW, Smackdown and Main Event after they air on USA Network, Syfy and ION. WWE Network will have limited commercials with several programs running ad-free.
The service will cost $9.99 a month with a 6 month commitment. Sign ups will be managed through WWE.com. There should be more clarification on this commitment point in the deal when the service is officially offered online. On social media, fans have found the $10-a-month price as quite fetching. WWE made this selling point more prominent when they compared the price of buying every WWE pay per view a year in HD and how much those same PPV events would be on the WWE Network.
WWE will blend all classic and current program with a second screen experience on the WWE Network. This social media interaction element is something that the company has labored over with their official app which has over 9 million downloads.
The WWE Network will offer all of WWE’s 12 monthly live pay per view events including Wrestlemania. The inclusion of Wrestlemania, WWE’s biggest annual event was not certain until tonight’s announcement. PPV events will still be sold through the traditional cable and satellite TV route following the launch of the Network.
WWE Network will not be available but it will be available online as an internet streaming service on WWE.com, and as an app for Android devices, Apple devices, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, and Roku boxes. The Network will also be available the Sony PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Xbox 360 video game consoles. The Network will be accessible through smart TVs and XBOX One later in the summer.
WWE Network will not be available outside of the United States with it’s official launch day on February 24, but will be available internationally in multiple countries by late 2014 or early 2015.
Original and exclusive content was announced at the WWE Network launch event and it includes the following shows.
WWE Monday Night War: The best of the ‘90s war between WWE RAW and WCW Nitro are relived in this program.
WWE Countdown: The fans choose the best wrestler, the best catchphrase, and much more in this fan-interactive countdown show.
WWE Wrestlemania Rewind: This talking-head retrospective on some of the biggest matches from WWE’s grandest event, Wrestlemania.
WWE Legends House: This reality series has been in the can since early 2012 with Rowdy Roddy Piper, HillBilly Jim, ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund, Jimmy Hart, and other legends livng together in a house while dealing with a bunch of ridiculous scenarios. This show will be debut in April.
Live Daily Studio show with a title yet-to-be-determined: There was not many details revealed about this program but it’s been believed that the show will emanate from WWE’s headquaters in Stamford, Connecticut.
Live Pre/Post Shows for RAW and Smackdown: After WWE goes off the air with their cable TV outlets, this show will feature a “behind the curtain” peek at the superstars and divas just after the big stories playout.
WWE NXT: This show already airs internationally and is available for American fans on Hulu Plus and it features WWE prospects fighting for a spot on the main roster.
For the latest on the WWE Network, follow the Pro Wrestling Examiner here on Examiner.com.