1/9 Dot Net One Shots Special: The Dot Net staff give their quick thoughts on the WWE Network announcement
This week's Dot Net One Shots features a single expanded "shot" from the Dot Net staff concerning the WWE Network announcement. Jason Powell and Chris Shore will also have a detailed discussion of the WWE Network in today's Dot Net Weekly. Take advantage of the $1 Dot Net Membership sale by simply entering the coupon code "rumble" when you checkout via the Dot Net Members' Signup Page.
Will Pruett (Twitter - @itswilltime): I'm sure we will hear about how the WWE Network with ruin and/or enhance WWE's business, but I want to approach it as a fan. I'm a sucker for old wrestling and having the WWE, WCW, and ECW pay-per-view libraries on demand sealed the deal for me. Add in current pay-per-views, and the low $9.99 price tag and I'm hooked.
From the technical aspect, I understand why someone would be suspicious. WWE is setting themselves up for a big test with WrestleMania XXX on the Network. I have some confidence in them since they are partnering up with MLB.tv. This is an exciting time to be a wrestling fan. The night after Elimination Chamber couldn't come soon enough.
Jeff Lutz (Twitter - @JeffreyDLutz): I learned more from this website's coverage and follow-up of the WWE Network announcement than I learned from the announcement itself. WWE gave information about the network that most of us already knew, which was completely the right thing to do. It would have been horrible business and regretful public relations for WWE to mention all of the questions that were left unanswered by the announcement, especially those regarding the network's possible future on cable or satellite television. WWE delievered the announcement in the correct tone, but it was difficult to share the company's excitement because it presented few new facts.
I can't see myself ordering the WWE Network, at least for the time being. There are two laptop computers in my home, along with two iPhones and a Kindle Fire, but those are all less-than-optimal avenues on which to view WWE programming and pay-per-view events. Every time I try to watch something on my computer, I get distracted and my attention is averted; screens for iPhones and a Kindle are much too small to pay $120 per year to watch WWE's PPVs. I have little doubt that eventually I'll fork over the cash, but I'll probably do so hesitantly, only getting pulled in by the promise of classic footage and PPVs for which I'd rather not pay exorbitantly.
Still, the time was right. WWE, after years of bluster, needed to finally deliver on its promise of a 24-hour network. It doesn't seem like this is what WWE had in mind initially, as Vince McMahon and company imagined and forecasted a cable/satellite network that would be more accessible to fans who don't welcome change. WWE has every right to be excited about a revolution within its company, but I have every right to be cautious on how to proceed with accepting and embracing it.
Jake Barnett (Twitter - @barnettjake): WWE Network is shaping up to be a fantastic value for fans who either don't get enough WWE Programming on a weekly basis, or those who are looking to escape into the magic of nostalgia to avoid the current product. I think it's high time WWE capitalized in a big way on their vast tape library, and this look to finally deliver on what was promised ages ago when WWE attempted to host this service on their website.
I'm not entirely without reservations, however, as I'm not sure what this means long term for WWE's PPV value proposition. They are asking for a six month commitment up front, so you can't just sign up to get access to one PPV for $9.99, but they are in a sense telling customers that the PPV's they had been paying $50+ per month for are actually worth only a portion of the $10 monthly subscription fee to the WWE Network. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I certainly can't argue with the price being offered for what seems like an awful lot of content. WWE will know after that first renewal period whether this was a huge mistake, or if they have stumbled upon a huge boon for themselves.
Now that WWE is producing content 24/7 for their network, and still has to produce six hours of weekly television for its cable partners, what does that mean long term for the quality of the product? One can only postulate at this point, but given WWE's recent creative malaise, it's hard to imagine the product being improved by stretching talent and writing staff even thinner than they are now. Wait and see is always the approach, but I'll be a skeptic until I'm proven wrong. In the end, I think long time WWE fans will be quick to jump on this, and the launch of the network will be a rousing success. The real test will be a year or more down the road, when the tape library isn't as much of a draw as it once was, and the original content has to carry the subscription base.
Zack Zimmerman (Twitter - @InVasionZim): The WWE Network is the most logical thing WWE has ever done. With such a vast content library, there was simply no other way to make so much material accessible. The multi-platform availability follows properly in line with the trend of television and movie viewership, and in the future looking back, this will likely be a significant component in the shift of the entertainment industry.
If you don't like math, feel free to skip this paragraph. I was tossing some numbers around with a friend, and we figured it like this: If WWE averages 200,000 PPV buys monthly at an average of $50, that generates $10mil (which is split between WWE and PPV/cable companies). In order to generate the same $10mil at $10 a month, the network requires 1 mil subscribers (plus, keeping all production and distribution in-house means that WWE won't have to split the revenue). The question remains how smoothly non-tech savvy WWE fans will make the transition, but unless the number of subscribers falls morbidly short of the projection, this will be a great thing for business and fans alike.
Ryan Kester (Twitter - @InnominatusTTV): I went from being mildly interested to awaiting the day I can sign up for the new WWE Network as soon as WWE announced the $9.99 price tag and the fact that includes every WWE PPV. That alone would have sold me on the service, but the added bonus of being able to watch the week's work of wrestling in HD whenever I have the time (a consistently dwindling commodity these days) along with NXT has me eagerly anticipating the Network's launch. The list of features WWE is including with the new streaming service is impressive, and they've set themselves up well to grow the service as they add more and more of their legacy content, which WWE has in spades.
Naturally, all of this can come crashing down if WWE doesn't have the resources ready for the demand when the service launches. This can go form a great opportunity for increased revenue and less reliance on the PPV model to a black eye in a heartbeat if they don't prepare enough between now and February 24th. For my money, I hope they pull the move off, and I look forward to enjoying my subscription when the service launches.
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