By Drew McConnell
Last night in Las Vegas, WWE made its long awaited official announcement regarding the Network. The network, as expected, will combine 24/7 live streaming with an on demand component. The network will feature scheduled, original programming such as the previously taped “Legends’ House” as well as all twelve Pay-Per-View events. Interestingly, they made no mention of WrestleMania 31 either being on or off the network. This year’s Mania, however, will be available to network subscribers.
The WWE Network is scheduled to launch at 9am ET on Monday, February 24th, at a price of $9.99 per month. Subscribers will be forced into buying for six months, as expected. However, that will be the case for the time being. For instance, if you sign up on 2/24, your subscription would expire on 8/24. If you decide to renew, you would be renewing for another six months. So, as things stand right now, you’ll be locked in for six months, regardless of when you sign up.
Another interesting note is that the WWE Network will only be available in the United States for most of the year. They hope to expand in to other countries, including Canada and the UK, by the end of 2014 or beginning of 2015.
They will also be extensively utilizing their tape library as every single WWE, WCW and ECW PPV will be available on demand via the network.
In terms of platform distribution, the network will be available via desktops and laptops on WWE.com, the WWE App, Roku, Playstation 3 and 4 and XBox 360. It will eventually be available on select Smart TV’s as well as through the XBox One console.
All in all, this is a huge step for WWE. Obviously they’re putting a ton of stock in their ability to sell this thing, given that they’re cannibalizing their PPV business. On the whole, I believe that this can be a big success for them. At only $9.99 a month, given all of the content you’ll be getting, not to mention the 12 live PPV events, it’s a no-brainer. The rumor is that they need 1 Million subscribers to break even, which is roughly 25% of their US Raw audience. Time will tell if they can get there, but one would imagine with the market shift to online streaming content, the fact that wrestling fans have no qualms making online purchases (5x more than most people, according to WWE’s research) and the incredibly affordable price, I could see this being the next WrestleMania – in that it changes the course of the business. For WWE’s sake, I hope it takes off.