WWE’s “groundbreaking announcement” at the International CES Convention at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada this past Wednesday night, as expected, was the announcement of the official launch of the new WWE Network. The service, which WWE is describing as “way over the top,” was really presented in a way that made it feel like a revolutionary invention.
It had long been rumored for a while now that both WWE and UFC would be introducing a digital network service for their fans. While UFC technically beat WWE to the punch by launching theirs in December, and holding their first live event on the service in January, WWE took their presentation and introduction of the service to the next level.
The press conference that WWE held on Wednesday night in Vegas was nothing short of extraordinary. There were a ton of top-tier talent there to make the announcement not only feel bigger, but come off as more of an “event” than a mere announcement. From that standpoint, they delivered in droves. From Vince and Stephanie McMahon, to D-Generation X, to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and John Cena, there were a number of speeches delivered during the announcement that gave the casual viewer a certain level of entertainment to go along with the information that was being introduced.
As far as the speeches are concerned, Vince and Stephanie played their corporate roles for the most part, with Stephanie allowing herself to have a little bit of fun during the D-X portion of the presentation. D-X came off as total goofballs in my opinion, which is both good and bad. It’s good for the fans who have a nostalgic desire to see the gang back together again, in-character, even if for only one night. It’s bad in the sense that Triple H, like it or not, is supposed to be phasing into more of a corporate spokesperson and executive for the company. In that regard, “Mr. Triple H” came off like a total clown.
It was revealed during the presentation that there would be 24/7 live streaming content, along with a number of original programs, including Legends House, WWE Countdown, The Monday Night War (not WARS, let’s not forget!) and WrestleMania Rewind. Additionally, RAW, SmackDown and NXT will all be made available through this service, as well as secondary programming such as Main Event and Superstars.
One of the real surprises within the announcement, at least for me, was the revelation that all WWE pay-per-views, including WrestleMania (starting with WrestleMania XXX in April) will be available to WWE Network subscribers, at no additional fee. While on the surface this appears to both be good news for WWE PPV-buying fans, as well as a bad business move on the part of WWE, when you look deeper into things, it’s actually pretty much the same for both.
The price point for the WWE Network was announced as $9.99 per month. Technically, this is true. However, to avoid having fans sign up for one month just to receive a reduced price for a pay-per-view, only to cancel after the PPV is over, it was revealed after the announcement that you can only order the WWE Network in six-month blocks. Basically, it’s a $60 commitment each time around. So while it will only run you $9.99 per month, you must commit to a $60 subscription, as there are no options that allow a subscriber to sign up for only one month at a time.
To me, that was the only true let down coming out of the announcement. I feel like the casual fan is going to find out about this when they attempt to sign up, and be turned off as a result of a somewhat dishonest approach in advertising the service. In a situation like this, where you’re attempting to completely alter you’re entire business model, trust is a key factor. Especially truth in advertising. The subscriber should know ahead of time exactly what they’re getting themselves into, with no surprises, especially negative ones, during the process.
The official launch date for the WWE Network service is February 24, 2014. That is for the United States, however, as they mentioned a late 2014 or early 2015 target date for international subscribers to the service, which also includes all WWE, WCW and ECW pay-per-views in history, and a lucrative amount of the complete WWE library available instantly upon subscribing.
The first pay-per-view to be available on the WWE Network service, which no doubt played a major part in the timing of the launch, is WrestleMania XXX. It will be extremely interesting to track the subscription numbers in the month of April, as I would assume WWE is expecting a ton of new subscribers to sign up to receive what will result in a discounted price of WrestleMania, if you buy the Network as opposed to purchasing the show individually on pay-per-view.
All in all, I think the announcement was a total thumbs up, and was presented incredibly well. It really felt like a historic announcement, and as noted, will have a very large impact on the way WWE conducts their business moving forward.
What did you guys think of the WWE Network announcement, as well as the service itself? Leave your feedback in the “Comments” section below, or hit me up directly on Facebook at Facebook.com/MattBooneWZR.