The first day. I signed up on the first day.
Since February I have been giving $9.99 directly to World Wrestling Entertainment every month for their over-the-top streaming network.
On January 8, 2014, WWE announced that they were launching the “WWE Network” – a channel that they originally were hoping to launch with traditional cable providers – as a stand alone Internet streaming network. Through your web browser, mobile device, gaming system, streaming box, or smart TV – you could watch WWE Network programming – all for only $9.99.
I remember that day watching the press conference and thinking, this is pretty cool. They would have hundreds of hours of on-demand content in a library that we could watch at our own leisure. What set apart the WWE Network from other streaming platforms I subscribe to (Netflix/Hulu Plus) was that they also would have a dedicated live 24-hour stream running scheduled content much like a normal television channel.
But the real game changer, the real reason that I was going to give my money to Vince McMahon every week, was that with my $9.99 every month, I would also be able to watch their monthly pay-per-views, live in HD.
My brother and my cousins and I always get WrestleMania every year. Sometimes we’d get 1 or 2 other PPVs during the year. Each time, these were costing $40 or $50 – or hell even more.
If we split those costs, it’d come to usually $10 or $15 a month.
Now, for $9.99, I could see every single one of their PPVs?
So on that first day, like I said, I signed up.
I thought a lot more – millions – would follow along with me. I am surprised that it hasn’t worked out this way.
I am sure the people who actually buy the PPVs every month – or most months at least – is only a fraction of people who watch WWE programming each week, or buy their merchandise, or go to their live events. However, I would think most of these people would want to see ALL the PPVs and spend under 10 bucks. Right?
Apparently not. Why is that?
Well here’s my thinking. The first is that a lot of people out there don’t have the best set up to watch an Internet streaming channel. They don’t want to watch PPV events on their laptop or mobile device, and don’t have a connected TV.
The second thing is the money itself. Sure $9.99 a month doesn’t seem like a lot – and for what they give you I think it’s a really good price – but it’s still $119.88 a year. There are a lot of WWE fans out that that don’t even get 1 PPV a year, or they split WrestleMania with their friends – and this cost is just more than they’re willing to spend.
The third thing is that they may just not like the Network. There are a lot of people that canceled as soon as their 6-month commitment (something WWE has since done away with) was up. My guess is that they didn’t watch the Network enough, didn’t like what it had to offer, or did not have a good technical experience with it.
A lot of the on-demand stuff I watch looks perfect. For the most part, the two shows I try to watch on the live stream (Main Event and NXT) look perfect most of the time too. But when the big PPV shows are on, I think the system gets taxed sometimes and the quality of the stream gets compromised.
At the last PPV (Hell in a Cell) I had an almost perfect experience. I almost tweeted that and then my stream got stuck – but only for a few seconds. You do see a lot of tweets about people’s stream not working right, and that could be enough to get a lot of people to cancel.
Me? I frigging love it. If you’re a wrestling fan, I think there is a lot to love. They have great documentaries about the past, a weekly live show with current wrestlers – and a weekly show in their “minor league” showcasing faces of the future.
Take the “WWE” aspect out of it. If there was a product that you loved, and they were able to create their own network – bypassing the cable companies – and give it to you for $9.99 – how could you not enjoy it?
This month, WWE is running a big promotion. They’re giving the Network to you for free. If you sign up now, the rest of November – including a live “Main Event” and in two weeks the “Survivor Series” – for free.
It’s not free for me – because I’ve been a paying customer – happily – paying my $9.99 since day one.
For more information on the WWE Network, check out http://network.wwe.com
Follow my wrestling twitter account at @wrestlewatcher.