IS THE WWE NETWORK FOR YOU?
If You Have $120 To Spend … If You Have The Proper Hardware … If You Buy At least Three PPVs Annually … If You’re Enamored With The Attitude Era … Then The Answer Is …
YES! YES! YES!

By Gerry Strauss

The WWE Network is here, and the way we watch pro wrestling (or at least, WWE) has been changed forever … for some of us. Perhaps you still feel more comfortable with traditional pay-per-view, or you aren’t sure how to access the streaming service. Maybe you still prefer your tried-and-true DVD collection to an on-demand menu. The WWE Network might not be for everyone, but if you simply don’t have enough information yet to decide whether to make the leap, we’re here to help with answers to a few of your most common questions.

What exactly is a streaming network, anyway?

In plain lingo, streaming content is delivered through the Internet instead of through more traditional cable or satellite networks. Companies, most notably Netflix and MLB.TV, have tapped into the emerging Internet platform to deliver content directly to our computers, devices, and TVs. With a variety of inexpensive ways to watch streaming content, viewers can order specific content without having to pay for unwanted content on cable-TV.

At $9.99 a month, will I get my money’s worth?

That depends what you want out of the Network. Let’s start with what WWE considers the Network’s biggest selling point: pay-per-views. Since you’d get them all with the cost of your subscription, let’s compare it to the cost of buying 12 PPVs a year. Taxes and fees can vary depending on location, so we’ll look at the base price only. Suggested retail pricing for PPVs in standard view is $44.95 ($5 more for high-def) for all events except Wrestlemania, which costs a premium rate of $59.95. Some quick math puts your annual total at $554.40. Compare that to the Network’s $119.88 annual price and you don’t need to be a mathematician to see the huge savings. If you purchased only the Big Three (WrestleMania, SummerSlam, and Royal Rumble), subscribing to the Network would save you $29.97, and you’d be able see nine more shows.

What equipment do I need to watch the WWE Network?

Here’s the elephant in the room. Many WWE fans simply may not be technologically prepared to access the Network … either because they don’t own an appropriate device, or they simply don’t realize that they do. Here’s the breakdown:

Desktops and laptops: If you want to watch the Network on your regular ol’ computer, you can do so through wwe.com.

Android Devices: If you have an Android smart phone or tablet running Android OS 2.3.3 or higher, you are good to go.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD: Like any other android device, this tablet/e-reader will work great … as long as it’s running Android OS 2.3.3 or higher.

i-stuff:  iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touch can download the WWE App and get you into the Network, as long as your device is running iOS 6 or higher.

PlayStation 3 and 4: Either of these gaming consoles act as the perfect portal to WWE “app”-iness and the Network.

Xbox 360: If you are holding on to this classic game system, you’re in luck. Just make sure that you have an Xbox Live Gold subscription. You can’t get in without it.

Roku devices: For those not familiar, these handy contraptions allow you to watch streaming, Internet-based content right on your TV. The newer Roku 3 model only works with HDTVs, so if you are hanging on to your not-so-flat screen, you’ll want a Roku LO, Roku 1, or Roku 2. Prices range from $49.99-$99.99.

Apple TV: Though not specifically mentioned at the WWE press conference announcing the Network, a WWE representative wrote to an inquiring fan that the Network will be available on second-generation or later (black) Apple TV devices.

Remember, these are simply the first wave of devices that have welcomed the WWE Network with open arms. Microsoft’s newest gaming console, the Xbox One, is expected to develop compatibility by the summer, while select smart TV’s will do the same, allowing access to the network with no additional equipment at all.  

Will these events stream seamlessly, without interruption?

WWE will tell you yes, and we’d like to believe them. Netflix doesn’t seem to have a problem streaming movies, but let’s see what happens at a live event when millions of people are attempting to access the stream at the same time. The fact that WWE has a proven partner in Major League Baseball Advanced Media should give us (and WWE) a level of comfort.

Will the price remain $9.99 a month after the initial six months?

WWE’s marketing instincts tell them that they’d be wise not to exceed the $10 barrier, and they haven’t given any indication that $9.99 is merely an introductory price point. Our gut feeling is that the $9.99 number will be around throughout the strongest initial growth period, say two years.

Aside from the pay-per-views, what else can I look forward to?

If you’re going to rationalize a subscription to the WWE Network based on the inclusion of pay-per-views, the rest of the programming is gravy. So get ready to enjoy NXT and Superstars on a weekly basis, 1,500 hours of WWE and non-WWE on-demand content, pre- and post-Raw and Smackdown shows, rebroadcasts of Raw and Smackdown, original programming (both thought-provoking and goofy), the WWE DVD library, and much more.

Will old matches and TV shows be edited or censored to accommodate the TV-PG standard?

Nope. Instead, the network will rely heavily on a standard ratings system, with requests for viewer discretion airing before all TV-14 or TV-MA programming. Presumably, programming from the Attitude Era and ECW will frequently fall under those categories, but other instances of blood, violence, and mature content will also fit the bill. Parental controls will allow you to control who in our household is allowed to watch this content.

Will this type of service be emulated by other pro wrestling companies?

The short answer is that it seems likely, but not immediately, and certainly with far less content. In an interview with pocket-lint.com, longtime TNA announcer Jeremy Borash said, "We have always been a company that has evolved and advanced with baby steps, and not to do what our competition is doing for the sake of it. We do what is best for TNA Wrestling first and foremost, and if that means a streaming subscription service is something that our fan base demands, we will follow suit accordingly."

Smaller wrestling companies can conceivably follow the leader and create their own Over The Top platforms to utilize in place of shaky Internet pay-per-views offerings. Ring of Honor COO Joe Koff, who has been spooked out of the iPPV market, said that he’ll take a wait-and-see approach but is rooting heavily for WWE to be able pull this off.

Will the WWE Network prove to be the wave of the future for all of pro wrestling, or a major misstep?

Stay tuned; we’ll all find out together.

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