My thoughts on the WWE Network!
I should give fair warning, if the title wasn’t apparent enough; today we are not talking about video games. Rather we are talking about my other hobby, wrestling. So, for those looking for video game talk, sorry, it’s not here today, try back another time.
The WWE Network. Odds are if you are a wrestling fan who watches WWE programming, you can’t have missed the huge amount of shilling and advertising for the network. $9.99 a month for a 6 month commitment gives you access to the vast library of WWE trademarked PPV’s, including WWE, WCW, ECW. Not only that, you get access to NXT, various specials, and of course, all current PPV’s as they air all for that low price of $9.99 in HD. Despite the fact it sounds like a good deal, I constantly hear that the number of subscribers is not the expected number. So, last week, the WWE announced that starting on that Monday, they were having a free week long trail of the network, with no credit cards needed. So naturally, I had to give that a try. Unfortunately, the network itself is currently limited to American audiences, so being Canadian I had to work some dark magic to make it possible, but for that one week, I dove head first into the WWE network to find out if it really is worth the price of admissions for fans, both hardcore and not.
Let me first explain what exactly you’re getting with the network. On the surface, it’s basically Netflix, but for wrestling. You have access to WWE’s massive PPV library, which as mentioned earlier includes WWE, WCW and ECW PPV’s, at any time, with no restrictions. They claim the network is unedited, but that’s a bit of a white lie. Some things have been edited out of certain PPV’s, like The Owen Hart tragedy of Over the Edge 99. Primarily edits have to do with songs no longer owned by WWE, which is often replaced with a lame substitute I admit, but they do that for DVD and VHS releases anyway. What that means is sadly you’re not getting the live version, but the DVD edit. 9 out of 10 times, they are basically the same anyway, so it hardly matters. You also get access to various specials which rotate in and out, special shows and content like Legends house and Total Divas, and NXT. Sadly, NXT only keeps so many episodes before cycling them out, but other than that, it’s Netflix.
But that’s not all you get, as outside of being Netflix, it’s actually kind of a channel too. There is schedule of programs that run which you can watch like TV. This also includes life streams of PPV’s and NXT and is HD where applicable. I haven’t had TV in my house for a few years now, but I got to say, sometimes you don’t want to pick and choose your PPV, you just want to watch what’s on for mindless entertainment. The only downside here is the current lack of original content they can show. They show PPV’s from time to time, but they usually show things like total Divas, Legends house, and specials, and there just isn’t a whole lot there at the moment. Hopefully that will change with time though.
Talking about the technical side of things, the network is nowhere near as smooth as it could be. Say you’re watching Netflix, and your internet cuts out. With Netflix or YouTube, your progress is saved, so when you come back, it’s easy to get back to where you were, give or take a minute or two. The network doesn’t work like that. If the service disconnects, often it just resets whatever you were watching. This is hugely problematic while watching older PPV’s, as only a select few of them come with handy bookmarks on the progress bar to give you a vague idea of where matches are. Outside of that, it’s basically a crapshoot. Considering that PPV’s are usually 3 hours given or take, this is a huge headache. Granted, it’s something that can be fixed later, but considering how shaky the connection can be, it’s a problem now. I did have connection issues now and again, and I was willing to chalk it up to my dark wizardry to watch it, from what I’ve read, many American subscribers have also had connection issues. I can’t speak for streaming quality on PPV’s (as there was none during the free week) But watching NXT live, outside of one connection issue, the picture stayed sharp and smooth, just like HD should. So there is room for improvement from a technical perspective.
Is $9.99 a month (with a 6 month commitment) worth it to get all this access? Honestly, that kind of depends on what type of fan you are. If you’re a diehard tape trader, then not really, as you have access to the insane library of footage that WWE offers here. If you’re a long time fan who watches the new while reminiscing on the past, this is right down your alley, as $9.99 is a steal for all this content alone, plus NXT, plus current WWE PPV’s. It’s also a good deal for casual fans, as $9.99 a month for every PPV in is a bargain, unless you only buy into certain PPV’s a year, like Wrestlemania, then it’s not a really good deal. I think that might be the problem overall with the Network and its current lack of subscribers. Not everyone is interested in older wrestling PPV’s, which is really the biggest selling point of the entire network. Some of the specials are interesting, but there isn’t enough there to keep you interested for 6 months, as they don’t often add these specials or any content short of NXT, which is added weekly. Even for those that do subscribe for that massive library of content, 6 months to a year may be all you need to see every older PPV you have ever been curious about. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, and while I can say I will subscribe once it becomes available here, I can’t see it lasting longer than 6 months, which is probably isn’t a good sign. The good news is that things can change; things can be added or fixed to be better than they are now. The framework is good, but the execution is a little shaky. If you’re on the fence about it, I would suggest it only if you’re interested in all the older PPV’s that become available to you. Other than that, I would wait.