WWE—World Wrestling Entertainment—made its presence felt in a big way at CES 2014 with the announcement of the brand-new WWE Network. Personalities including Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and chairman and CEO Vince McMahon were among the WWE luminaries on hand to hype the network’s debut.
WWE, launching in late February just in time for Wrestlemania XXX, combines streaming and live content. For 10 bucks a month, you get access to all 12 of WWE’s pay-per-view events each year and other live grappling action. There’s also a new TV series in development and a vast on-demand library of old matches and events.
Perhaps most interesting is that you won’t need to pay for cable service to access this “over the top” network—it can be viewed anytime from just about any Web-connected device, including iOS and Android phones and tablets, game consoles, and streaming media players, such as Roku.
The launch of this network is a big deal for wrestling fans such as myself. But the network has huge implications for everyone.
If you’re a sports fan, imagine being able to pay for an football network that would let you watch every NFL game in a season and all the pre- and postgame shows, as well as past games and highlight shows. Boxing and the UFC could follow suit, offering pay-per-views as part of their package. Or maybe HBO will offer its HBO Go service without the need for cable.
With more and more consumers itching to reduce their cable bill and an increasing number considering cutting the cord, options such as the WWE Network are a good thing.
Vince McMahon is no stranger to shaking things up in the sports and entertainment worlds, and he’s had his share of flops (remember the short-lived XFL?) and hits (he really put pro wrestling as we know it on the map, and he's is considered an expert in pay-per-view promotion).
Time will tell whether the WWE Network earns a championship belt for leading a revolution in the television industry.