Most WWE fans have noticed the company’s heavy promotion of the WWE network that is due to arrive in 2012. While casting a wide net over the actual onset of the network in their advertisement of it, allowing themselves to only say that the new network will start at some point in the coming year. While the initial discussion was rumored to have the launch mid to late in the year, the WWE has realized that promotion potential and decided to try to make a push for the network’s premiere right around the time of Wrestlemania 28.
The plans for their own network have been in the works for a while, and will now become a reallity. With this strategy the WWE is prepared to stand on the same level as major sports leagues who all possess their own network. The rumor mill has began to spun like crazy about what the network will entail. It is a safe bet that the WWE will now have place to showcase its massive library, which is filled with thousands of hours of footage that spans decades, and crosses inter-promotional boundaries as WWE owns the rights the material of the defunct WCW and ECW.
The possibilities for the network are endless. The WWE has plans to introduce many original shows, air live events, specials and have a place to showcase weekly broadcasts like Superstars and NXT, which due to poor performance on cable television have been relegated to the company’s website. Additionally, the company has been posting surveys on WWE.com trying to get an idea of what their fans’ vision of the network should be. There is a lot of exciting ideas that were thrown around. For example, the WWE initially threw out the idea of showing the big four PPVs of the year (Wrestlemania, Summer Slam, Survivor Series and Royal Rumble) on the network, free of pay per view charges while keeping the same quality as their do currently on PPV television. The response was undoubtedly overwhelming, but they changed their question to see if the fans would prefer that they show all PPV events but the big four, and only have the big four available on PPV during the year. One would suspect that this is a wiser financial strategy for the WWE as the company pulls the majority of their PPV earnings from the big four. Wrestlemania alone typically pulls in over 20 million annual for the company. The PPV calendar may get cut down from 13 to 12 to feature a “monthly special” event, and in the months where the big four events would take place, presumably still on PPV, the WWE may have other monthly special events in their stead.
Additionally, the WWE has already announced some ideas for shows, both will be reality shows. One will feature the life of a group of WWE Divas traveling on the road together, giving the fans a glimpse into the day to day events, fun and drama that the life of a female wrestler encompasses. Another reality show idea involves a house where a group of WWE legends will together for some time. Depending on the colorful characters involved, there is a chance of lots of awkwardness, and lots of laughs in this concept. A Sportscenter style studio show has also been entertained, though no confirmation has been given to this concept yet.
The availability of the network will likely be free, but is also likely to be part of a monthly subscription, possibly in similar (of the same) package as the major sports’ own networks. The WWE’s questioners have inquired whether the fans would be willing to pay an extra $8 to $13 a month in order to have this package available. For a hardcore fan, who orders every PPV of the year, this may be an easy yes. For others, it is certainly an opportunity to see a lot more events that they usually would with monthly $45 PPV events ($55 if watching them in HD).
While most details are still up in the air, WWE is gearing up for its biggest year yet. With Wrestlemania 28, the WWE already set the bar high with John Cena and The Rock in the main event. They have opted to declare even more story lines throughout the year leading on a long road to the company’s grand spectacle. The WWE network would be the next push in the history of an already dominant organization who, over the last decade, may have hit a somewhat dormant patch in the road. Since the monicker of “Attitude Era” of the late 90s and early ’00s, the WWE’s popularity has somewhat dipped, but this is a chance to pull back a lot of older fans and acquire new ones. If the WWE plays their cards right, this could be the biggest and best move the company has ever made.