When WWE announced the WWE Network, wrestling fans rejoiced. Make no mistake, Vince McMahon has hit another home run with the WWE Network, which went live February 24th, 2014 and streams your favorite content directly to your smart TV, computers via WWE.com, and gaming consoles like the Xbox One and PS4. At a cost of just $9.99 per month, viewers have access to every WWE PPV, weekly episodes of RAW and Smackdown, and a treasure trove of content. To be quite honest, it’s a steal, and subscribers will happily line up to take advantage of the service. What impact could this have throughout the television industry?
Despite how wildly popular HBO is, there is one thing missing. It’s equally popular HBOGO streaming service isn’t available as a standalone package. For many people, it represents the elusive library of content that is escaping their streaming desires. Indeed, more than a few consumers have abandoned traditional cable television, electing to use services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant to watch their favorite movies and TV shows. Well, most of their favorite movies and TV shows. With current programs like Game of Thrones, True Blood, and Boardwalk Empire, not to mention classics like The Wire and The Sopranos, HBO has some truly incredible content. After all, it’s not TV, it’s HBO, right? Just imagine how many people would subscribe to HBOGO if it were offered in the same monthly subscription format its competitors offer. To be sure, there would be a lot of people who would cancel their monthly HBO from their cable provider, but over time I think HBO (and consumers) would be better off in the long run.
The NFL Network has increased in popularity over the last few years. Giving football fans constant action, stats, and updates is the embodiment of the NFL Network, and viewers can’t get enough of the channel. As soon as your local game goes to commercial, boom, you’re hitting the previous button on your remote control and going back to NFL Network. You want to see if the running back on your fantasy team is about to score, you want to see what’s going in the league. I have no doubt in my mind that, if the NFL Network were being created in 2014, it would be offered in a similar mold to the WWE Network. The same thing applies to NFL Sunday Ticket. If it was offered as a standalone service, people would subscribe, no doubt about it. Restrictions to specific cable providers are holding these awesome channels back, to a certain degree.
Leave it to the WWE to change the face of entertainment. It’s a safe bet that with the WWE Network, they have once again.