It’s a wrestling fan’s wet dream.
The WWE announced last night at the Consumer and Electronics Show in Las Vegas that starting in February, fans will be able to purchase the WWE Network, a 24/7 network dedicated to wrestling of the present, past, and future. The channel will also feature some original programing like Legends House, a reality-based program centered around 8 legends of wrestling who live in a house together. It just might beat the hell out of the Jersey Shore.
Now, here’s the highlights of the press conference which was attended by WWE CEO Vince McMahon, his daughter Stephanie McMahon, son-in-law and WWE star Triple H, as well as WWE stars Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, and top dog of the WWE, John Cena.
Starting on February 24 at 8 A.M., fans will be able to purchases the channel for 9.99 per month with a 6 month commitment. Now, here’s what fans will receive with that 6-month commitment; they will be able to access the channel on PS4 and PS3 devices, as well as X-Box 360 devices. The channel will also be available on Apple TV, Roku, and iOS and Android devices such as phones or tablets. Along with the reality programming, the channel will also feature pregame and postgame shows for Raw on Monday nights, classic events, documentaries and other WWE programming. The major selling point of the channel, if you ask me, is the fact that if fans commit for 6 months, they will get all 12 pay per views, including WrestleMania. To give you an idea of what a pay per view costs, Royal Rumble will cost nearly $60 to purchase in high definition at the end of January. So, if you pay for one year of the programming, which is $120, you are saving over $600 on pay per views. That alone, is enough incentive for me to buy it.
WWE executives have figured at between 800,000 to 1 million fans buy two to three pay per views per year. In order for WWE to just break even, they would have to get 1 million subscribers. Some estimate that the WWE will get anywhere between 2 to 4 million subscribers.
WWE’s flagship show Raw, along with Smackdown, will remain on regular cable television, although WWE’s TV rights are up for grabs. The company hopes to have the rights in place by March 4. Raw currently is USA Networks top rated show, while Smackdown is among the top rated for the Scifi network. Reruns of the shows will air on WWE Network.
Fans have been waiting since 2011 for the network, as WWE teased it fans with promotional spots, but nothing has happened until now. WWE had considered running an ad-supported network station or a premium pay channel similar to HBO, but they decided that duo to the economic and distribution package it wanted that streaming a network was best.
If you ask me, there is no way the WWE can lose with the new network. Studies have shown that out of homes with four people, at least one is a wrestling fan. Think of all the people who use smartphones in today’s day and age. Being able to watch the content straight from your phone, laptop, or tablet is a big plus. Look at how popular Netflix has gotten. I think WWE will be even bigger in time. The main selling point for me was getting to access it on my PS4 and Roku. I’m not a big fan of watching programs on my phone or tablet, unless I’m traveling, so the potential for watching all the WWE Network programming from the comforts of my own television and home is hands down the main reason I will buy it. Also, thrown in the pay per views, and it’s a no-brainer. Most hardcore WWE will watch every pay per view, so this is saving them big money that they can in turn, spend on other WWE products or live events. WWE Network will hit the air at 10:05 P.M. on Monday February 24 with a post-show of Monday Night Raw. From then on, the possibilities are endless for the WWE. They could very well be on the verge of being a global phenomenon in the mass media market. To steal a phrase from The Authority, the WWE Network is no doubt, “What’s best for Business.”
For more information, visit wwe.com/wwenetwork.