Wrestling fans will soon enjoy 24/7 access to WWE shows. The streaming service will launch for $9.99 a month.
It's been a long time coming. For four years, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has been working day and night on a dedicated 24/7 network. Apparently the media company was inspired by the lucrative NFL Network, which enabled the league to generate over $1 billion per annum from licensing fees and advertising. But the journey wasn't easy.
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WWE initially planned on launching the new network as a TV channel. But cable providers were facing rising programming costs, declining customers, and fees for rights. The company eventually decided to launch it as a digital streaming service instead. Variety reports that 60 percent of WWE fans wanted to watch the WWE Network on an Internet-connected device, and 30 percent opted to watch shows on computers, and a small 7 percent on a mobile device.
"So we said maybe we should rethink this and look at an alternative model where we would be in control of our own destiny,” said Michelle Wilson, a marketing officer at WWE.
At CES 2014 in Last Vegas today, WWE CEO Vince McMahon officially announced the WWE Network. Launching in the U.S. on February 24, the WWE Network will feature all WWE live pay-per-view events including WrestleMania, WWE Countdown, WWE NXT, and the upcoming WWE Legends House. Subscription starts at $9.99 per month together with a 6-month contract.
The WWE Network will be available on Android, iOS, Kindle Fire devices, Roku players, Sony PSPs, and the Xbox 360.
“Today is a historic day for WWE as we transform and reimagine how we deliver our premium live content and 24/7 programming directly to our fans around the world,” CEO McMahon said.
According to Variety, WWE needs around 800,000 to 1 million subscribers to break even. WWE partnered with MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) to build the network. For those who are unaware, MLBAM has been building live video subscription services since 2002 and is the developer of the popular MLB At Bat baseball service.