Speculating on the rumours surrounding pro wrestling is a favoured pastime of many fans, perhaps second only to actually watching the matches. In this extra edition of our daily column, we take a look at the latest rumours being churned out by the pro wrestling rumour mill about the WWE Network.
Important reminder: Rumours are just that -- rumours. None of this has been confirmed as legitimate news or fact; so remember to take it all with a grain of salt.
WWE Network Rumours of the Week:
- A couple of weeks ago on his podcast, former WWE creative team member Court Bauer claimed that there has been no interest from cable carriers thus far in the WWE Network, as they're not down with the company's idea of offering their monthly pay-per-views on the channel when the subscription fee will be a fraction of the price those shows currently retail at. However, Hulu (the current home of NXT) and Netflix, the two big hitters in supplying exclusive on-demand Internet streaming media content in the United States are much more intrigued by the prospect of partnering up with WWE on the project and have had talks with them about doing exactly that.
- Vince McMahon will be holding an exclusive event at the International CES consumer electronics show at 6pm on January 8th, 2014 at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, but WWE are being tightlipped about what the invite only session will entail. Of course, the expectation is that this will be the big press conference to announce the launch of the WWE Network.
- February 24th, 2014, the day after the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, is still expected to be the date the WWE Network will start airing.
- WrestleZone.com reported that the WWE Network will be a live 24/7 online streaming channel that would be available through all modern devices, which would also have on demand content including all editions of Monday Night Raw and Smackdown and pay-per-view specials the company ever produced. The long term goal would be for all WWE-owned footage to be available at the click of a few buttons. The expected price tag is between $10-12 a month, though there will be a special launch deal where you can sign up for six months at $60 and watch WrestleMania XXX on the network. All pay-per-views with the exception of future WrestleManias will air on the channel.
- Apparently WWE are working with the successful MLB.tv on setting up their new Network, which is the closest existing service around to their proposals, in order to avoid any streaming problems from day one, which has been a major problem for major shows on iPPV from WWE, AAA, ROH, Invicta and many more.
- In a surprise, UFC will actually beat WWE to the punch by launching their own subscription-based digital network in early January, which has largely been developed so that their extra international events next year will have a place to air in the United States. Given the highly competitive nature of Dana White and the Fertitta brothers, insiders believe that they will inevitably upgrade their currently low key plans for the UFC Network, as they won't like the perception of having a less successful rollout than WWE of their new subscription service.
- Apparently, WWE has even come up with a new company logo in order to push the network, which adds a touch of a button arrow insignia to the usual WWE lettering. Expect them to go overboard on television with hype for the WWE Network once its launch date has been officially announced.
- Despite not having to split revenues with the cable carriers, the belief is that WWE would still need a million subscribers a year to break even with their own online channel, due to picking up all the costs themselves.
- Regarding the recent job promotions for Stephanie McMahon, George Barrios and Michelle Wilson, many people have noted how Stephanie has been completely protected if the WWE Network is a flop by being given the largely figurehead role of being the company's brand ambassador, whereas all the responsibilities rests on the shoulders of Barrios and Wilson, who'll be the corporate scapegoats if things do go tits up.
- Earlier this week, George Barrios gave a presentation at the UBS 41st Annual Global Media and Communications Conference in New York and seemed to confirm a lot of these rumours, in particular, detailing his frustration with the pushback from cable and satellite companies to the WWE Network and their proposed change in the PPV model, which would strongly suggest that the channel's future would indeed be online. Even though negotiations continue for a traditional distribution approach, it doesn't seem like the two sides will be able to come to a deal at this late stage.