WWE Network And Apple TV

World Wrestling Entertainment has generally always been at the forefront of new technology. They started selling pay-per-view content 30 years ago, they had a very popular AOL keyword (remember those?), a mid 90s website that was an extension of its brand (rather than just a corporate business card), and now they are moving into direct streaming for the video content they create. Here are the details of the new WWE Network:

  • $9.99/month
  • Access to tons of on demand content (video archives)
  • Live PPV content
  • TV content replays
  • New live shows
  • Access via iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Roku, Playstation 3/4, and Xbox One (no mention of Apple TV, but I assume AirPlay works)

It is pretty daring to give away all of the $50 PPVs for free with a $10/mo subscription (there is a 6 month contract). I think they believe this model is the future of content distribution and are willingly to sacrifice short term profits for long term growth of their business.

I do find it interesting that the Apple TV wasn't mentioned as this product seems like a perfect "app" for it. I think one of a few things might be the reason for its exclusion:

  1. Apple isn't letting them pre-announce the app.
  2. WWE doesn't want to let new sign-ups happen on the Apple TV and then be forced to give Apple 30% (Hulu originally held out because of this).
  3. WWE is still finishing the Apple TV app and it won't be ready for launch.

As with anything, it has to work well technically. They've partnered with the folks who run MLB.TV (which is rock solid), so I have no doubt that it will work well.

WWE collaborated with MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) to build a powerful solution for delivering 24/7 WWE content to fans. MLBAM will provide its industry-leading technology services, including video streaming infrastructure, application development and operational support for reliable cross-platform distribution.

MLBAM has been at the forefront of streaming technology for more than a decade, powering its own live video subscription product since 2002. Last year, MLBAM managed live video content for more than 25,000 events, covering 80,000 hours of broadcast programming, across its sports and entertainment partners.

I'm personally not a WWE viewer, but I really hope this succeeds. This is the subscription model a lot of us want (particularly for sports content), so if this succeeds we might see ESPN, NFL, etc start to sell content directly to consumers. It's worked well for MLB (sans blackouts) and I think WWE will be successful. Here's to the future.