If you have been reading my blogs, my columns or my tweets you are well aware that I have been closely watching the progress and evolution of the WWE Network. You will also know that this is not about being a fan of WWE or wrestling, at all, but rather looking at viewing television in an entirely new way.
I am not alone in viewing this as such a major change. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, LA Times and other media outlets have covered the launch of the network. The New York Times had a very interesting article on March 30th, that looked at the network, and the McMahon’s influence on television. Check it out here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/31/business/media/the-body-slam-is-buffering.html
The network launched on February 24. It ran into some trouble early with people having issues signing up and registering. The service provided a little bit of live streaming, but mainly served Video on Demand. Its first test, the one and only WrestleMania, was the REAL lanuch. With hundreds of thousands die hard wrestling fans tuning into the stream, could the technology hold up? If not, you could have some angry fans who were not able to see if the Undertaker’s streak was broken.
As research for my work at rAVe I tuned into the stream. I will be perfectly honest. I had no expectations other than a bad experience. Wow, was I wrong. We had the stream running in two locations in our house. One in the family room on an Apple TV and one in the living room on a PlayStation 3. Both provided excellent quality, beautiful video. the biggest issues we saw, was that on occasion (may 10-12 times in a 4 hour event) the video quality would degrade for a second, then skip back for 5 seconds. Never did the video pause, jump or buffer. We were able to watch an live event without interruption. Many of the reviews from others reported the same results.
WWE announced this morning that they have over 660,000 subscribers to the Network (http://corporate.wwe.com/news/2014/2014_4_7.jsp) . That is after only 42 days in existence. The company has stated that it needs about 1 million subscribers by the end of the year, to turn a profit. It seems like a likely goal, particularly considering the amazing success of last night’s event.
So, if for some reason, until last night you imagined that a subscription to your local cable provider, coming into your house via coax is the future, here is your wake up call.
What do you think about the future of television viewing? Did you get a chance to view the stream? Are you ready for the future?