WWE Network Is Changing How We Watch TV

On February 25, 2014, World Wrestling Entertainment launched their new OTT (over-the-top) streaming/on-demand service known as the WWE Network. The network was the first of its kind to offer an OTT (meaning there isn’t a need to be subscribed to a cable/satellite package) service that would not only offer their vast on-demand library but also regularly scheduled content in a streaming format, including their major monthly events, formerly known as pay-per-views, including Wrestlemania, the company’s flagship annual event.

Even though the formal announcement was made in January, with rumors being leaked months before, WWE had an announcement in 2011 during Wrestlemania 27 in Atlanta. The online world went crazy with the idea that there would be a cable channel that was devoted to professional wrestling, but at the time, the company wasn’t completely sold on how it was going to work out.

Years went by, & after a while, many fans had forgotten about it & were content with purchasing DVDs/blu-rays & watching Monday Night Raw & Smackdown on Thursdays on USA & Sci-Fi, respectively.

When the first press conference took place in Las Vegas, the company made it known that there would be new original programming that was made exclusively for the WWE Network. This was a gamble for the publicly-traded organization & its chairman, Vince McMahon.

McMahon has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to programming, having been the first to introduce major live events on pay-per-view, known then as closed-circuit television, a system where fans would pay money to go to a movie theatre & watch the live event. Then, he decided to create a live, weekly wrestling show (Raw), which in the wrestling world, was a massive gamble due to many wrestling shows back in the 70s, 80s & early 90s were all taped shows, but with no social media, wrestling promoters could get away with having shows in the can weeks in advance & word would never get out.

However, the WWE has been on a bit of a downward trend since the “Attitude Era” of 1997-2001. When the company bought their competition, WCW (World Championship Wrestling) the competition & fire was lost a bit & while the wrestling was still good, it wasn’t as red hot as it once was.

On February 25, 2014, that all changed. The buzz was massive for the new WWE Network, as the company said that it wanted to get around 1 million subscribers early on. The first 3 months were around 700,000 subs & investors & fans were worried that WWE wasn’t getting to their goal & the stocks were hurting. WWE underwent massive turnover with their executives running the Network. However, now, the network looks to be at a point where its much stronger & their programming has been outstanding for wrestling fans & non-fans who are not used to the product.

How does WWE network work?

We had many friends who worked at companies such as Comcast, DirecTV & others who would tell us that people would try to order WWE Network on the systems & the people couldn’t understand how it wasn’t available.

That’s because its OTT. As we mentioned earlier, the OTT service means that the application is available only on streaming-based devices, such as laptops, dvd players, smart TVs, game consoles, tablets & smartphones. The service costs $9.99 per month & unlike many TV network apps, you don’t have to have a current subscription to a service provider to watch it – WWE works alone in presenting the content.

This OTT style of taking in content is similar to Netflix, Hulu & Amazon, except that there are live events available on the app. WWE Network was the first app of its kind to offer the service to this extent – especially with the pay-per-view events, which used to cost around $45 – $55 dollars to watch & order on PPV. Now, all of those events come in the regular package of $9.99, with the first month free.

wwe network changing tv

With the WWE Network proving to be successful, as noted by the over 2 million subscribers who signed up since launch & the 1.2 million the network currently has, other companies have taken note. Since the WWE Network launch, CBS, HBO & others have begun offering the OTT subscriptions for their library of content without being tied to a cable network, now known as cutting the cord. Soon, we predict that companies like ESPN will offer live sports in the OTT format, which would truly cripple cable TV since the best form of advertising comes on sporting events due to it being DVR-proof from a social perspective.

Many WWE Network viewers are loyal to the product – they will watch no matter the day or time, but on the network, the content that is shown on cable is not available until about 3-4 weeks after initial air, so if you want to binge watch & catch up at your own leisure on the storylines & product, that’s the way to go. With most other OTT services though, the content is available no more than 24 hours after the initial air. But that’s not terribly a big deal with the Network due to having the live events shown exclusively on it & those events are available immediately.

Within the WWE Network on-demand & live content, there is a built-in DVR system that allows you to go back & watch a moment or an event from the very beginning or at any point during the show. Essentially, you are receiving 3-in-1 for $10 a month. Still haven’t seen a network do that yet.

WWE Network giving people options

WWE Network is probably the worst thing to happen to many cable operators because it has opened up people’s thoughts about could they enjoy entertainment without cable or satellite. Once again, Vince McMahon has opened up a new form of entertainment option & has been ahead of the curve with this new form of programming.

This piece will come out during tonight’s WWE Survivor Series event, one of WWE’s stable events during the year. Many people – especially the younger people who have had tough times with affording cable packages, are used to surfing the net all night watching YouTube, Netflix & Hulu, or, to an extent, pirated content. With WWE coming out with the $10 price point for their service, companies like YouTube & others are now not afraid to offer services that don’t behold to what the networks say they have to carry.

This is a preview of the future of TV. We will all be over-the-top soon.