By Sahil Patel
Get ready for a lot more chokeslams on your computer or mobile screen: World Wrestling Entertainment has announced plans to launch a new subscription VOD service, WWE Network, on February 24.
Priced at $9.99 a month, the new service will offer more than 1,500 hours of on-demand video at launch, including WWE’s immense library of TV and PPV content, as well as an array of new original series.
Original shows include live 30-minute pre- and post-shows for WWE’s flagship weekly TV programs, “Monday Night Raw” and “SmackDown,” and the company’s monthly PPV specials. Other original programming at launch time will include:
- “The Monday Night War”: A series that takes a behind-the-scenes look at the late ’90s ratings battles between WWE and WCW, Ted Turner’s now-defunct wrestling operation, which was bought by WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon in 2001.
- “WrestleMania Rewind”: A look-back at some of the most famous bouts from WWE’s most important live, PPV event: WrestleMania. The show will include new, never-before-seen footage and interviews with those involved in the moments.
- “WWE Countdown”: A one-hour countdown series that will invite viewers to vote on things like “most spectacular superstars,” unexpected moments, and best catchphrases via social media.
Then, in April, WWE Network plans to premiere “WWE Legends House,” a new reality series featuring WWE hall-of-famers like Rowdy Roddy Piper and Hacksaw Jim Duggan. WWE also has plans for a studio show, which it says will be added to the network in the future.
If the extent to which WWE is moving forward with this over-the-top offering isn’t clear yet, the company also plans to live stream each of its 12 PPVs, including the big one: WrestleMania, on the WWE Network. The shows will continue to be available to non-subscribers on TV.
WWE Network is set to go live at 11:06 pm on February 24, immediately after that night’s telecast of “Monday Night Raw” on USA Network. Fans will be able to subscribe beginning that morning at 9 am. For a limited time, WWE says it will offer a one-week trial for users to sample the service. Aside from that though, WWE Network will be available for $9.99 per month with a six-month upfront commitment.
In terms of distribution, WWE is making the OTT network available online at WWE.com, as well as on devices like Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Samsung Galaxy, all iOS-powered devices, Roku streaming boxes, the PlayStation 3 and 4, and the Xbox 360. WWE Network will also be available via the Xbox One, though that’s going to come at a later date.
WWE Network will be powered by MLB Advanced Media, which is providing back-end services for streaming, app development, and operational support.
Launching initially in the US, WWE Network will expand to international markets, including the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Nordics, by the end of 2014 or early 2015.