SBD/December 10, 2013/Media

Significant Change In WWE Programming Landscape Expected With Launch of Network

WWE PPV events are expected to be part of the net's subscription
A WWE Network will "finally launch, likely in February," meaning the upcoming year for pro wrestling outfit will be "historic for the business no matter if it succeeds or fails," according to Justin LaBar of the PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW. It is "expected the network will feature all of the WWE PPV's as part of the subscription package." Tie that into the fact WWE is "looking to renegotiate its television rights deal and is hoping for more money -- this means emphasis will be on the weekly cable shows of RAW and SmackDown." Ratings for WWE's two primetime shows on USA Network and Syfy, respectively, "dictate how much money the company can ask for in its television deal." It also means these programs "will be what is used to attract new customers for the network." The industry rose on "building storyline up and culminating with payoffs at a PPV." But "coming soon, the big events already will be purchased courtesy of WWE Network subscription" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 12/9). LaBar said, "When this launches it is expected not to have all the content that's in the WWE vault, but at least all the 'Raws,' 'Smackdowns' and WWE pay-per-views ever will be your initial library." A subscription will cost $10-12 per month and "supposedly, they're going to look to have people sign up for six months off the bat," with the PPV cost for Wrestlemania 30 on April 6 included in that fee. WrestleZone.com's Josh Isenberg said of the WWE net, "When this finally gets off the ground, there's no going back. There's a reason why they have stopped three, four different times over the course of two, three years. ... When it launches, it has to be done perfectly" ("Chair Shot Reality," WRESTLEZONE.com, 12/5).

END OF AN ERA: MULTICHANNEL NEWS' R. Thomas Umstead noted WWE will "end its subscription WWE Classics On Demand service in January as it moves toward the creation" of the new network. The 9-year-old VOD service "will officially end its run on Jan. 31." WWE "would not confirm the timing" (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 12/9 issue).
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