Thursday, January 16, 2014
Rant #1,124: Wrestling With a New TV Format
I am sure that you heard that World Wrestling Entertainment, better known as WWE, announced this week that its new network, aptly named the WWE Network, would make its debut in late February.
And I am also sure that if you aren't a wrestling fan, you shrugged your shoulders in total apathy and moved on.
My advice to you is to not move so fast.
This might actually be the first move to what future TV is going to look like, not just for wrestling fans, but for all TV viewers.
The WWE Network will, of course, be totally built around its decades of wrestling content. The WWE--or in its earlier incarnations, the WWWF and the WWF--had the inclination to archive just about everything it put on the air, or even sometimes, stuff that never was aired, which other sports leagues only got into maybe during the past 20 years. That is why there isn't a clear, concise video of the first Super Bowl, because the NFL never thought about archiving its material until fairly recently.
Anyway, there will be new programming, older programming, and reruns of current material on the channel. Some of the programming will be regularly scheduled, and some of it will be on demand.
All of the wrestling organization's pay-per-views--its biggest attractions of the year--will be on the network.
And all this for $9.95 a month. Heck, the pay-per-views individually cost nearly $50 apiece, so the savings are there immediately.
And the first pay-per-view they will be showing will be Wrestlemania, its biggest event of the year and one of the biggest sports events in the U.S.
How are they doing this?
The WWE Network will be online only. That's right, you won't be able to subscribe to the network and watch it on your TV, unless you have a Smart TV or can figure out how to hook up your computer to your television (I can't figure it out, help!).
You can snub your nose at this, but the fact of the matter is that this might just be the first step into the future of television.
Right now, so many different media devices are converging, from television to smart phones to tablet computers. It is inevitable that all these devices will meet at a centerpoint, and the WWE Network might just be a tip of the iceberg when it comes to convergence, as once you subscribe for a six-month trial, you can get the network on all of your hand-held devices, and if you know what you are doing (I don't, help!), you can get it on your TV too.
I just think right now that the major TV networks are going to check out how successful the WWE network is. If it is successful--and there is no reason to think it won't be--then the networks could do the same thing, which they kind of do already by offering content on their sites. But they can go one step further, and offer archival content on their sites, which they leave to Hulu and other such providers right now.
It is another revenue stream that I am sure they are looking at, to provide their programming to the widest audience possible and thus, increase advertising revenue.
Why did the WWE go the online route? I can only guess that they couldn't secure enough interest from satellite, phone and cable networks to carry this programming 24/7, and this was the way that they could keep costs down, and thus, increase their revenue--do it themselves.
The price is right, the programming is perfect for the wrestling junkie, and being able to watch this stuff on all your digitial devices is something revolutionary.
So really, don't snub your nose at this.
Wrestling, which has been a mainstay of what you might call "alternative" programming since the dawn of television in the late 1940s, has come full circle with the medium, and the WWE Network is it.
Body slam, anyone?
Posted by Larry at 2:26 AM