As fans await WWE Network's launch, news centers around details, doubts and a meeting that has yet to happen.
The range of questions surrounding WWE as it embarks into uncharted digital waters is wide. Will a certain Apple product be able to support it? How will the Network change things for the men and women who perform in the ring?
What is most certain is that the launch will be an even bigger event than WWE's announcement about the Network at the Consumer Electronics Show. WWE is apparently going to use star power and nostalgia to power the Feb. 24 event.
F4WOnline, via WrestleZone.com, reports that "WWE is considering bringing in some big names, possibly Kevin Nash, Sean Waltman and Shawn Michaels, for the WWE Network launch."
Michaels attended WWE's presentation at CES along with John Cena, Triple H and Steve Austin. It's no surprise that the company wants this event to feel more significant and historic by adding names from the past.
Post-launch, the WWE Network will be available on a variety of devices from Roku streaming devices to video game consoles, per WWE.com. For Apple TV owners, there is additional but as-yet-unannounced news.
Although WWE has yet to officially confirm it, it appears that Apple TVs will indeed support the Network. Press at the CES received Apple TVs with WWE Network packaging, but the company still hasn't included it on its list of compatible devices.
As to the reason for that, PWInsider.com reports that, "Apple is set to release an overhauled Apple TV with refreshed iOS 7-style UI, which is being kept under wraps until it's officially unveiled by the company, which is likely why the WWE couldn't say much about it."
In addition to the excitement over the myriad options in where to watch the WWE Network and the delectable archive awaiting subscribers, there has been some negative press as well.
The shift in Superstars' payouts is a major concern going forward, something the company has reportedly yet to address. Marc Middleton of WrestlingInc.com reports the following:
We noted before that WWE officials were planning to address the WWE Network and how it changes the company to talents at RAW two weeks ago but that meeting never happened. At last word, that meeting still hasn't been re-scheduled. WWE talents remain in the dark about how the Network will affect their pay and everything else.
With all the planning required of launching the WWE Network and even the announcement itself, it's shocking that Vince McMahon and company haven't yet addressed the wrestlers themselves. The lack of information has to cause anxiety for guys depending on extra money coming in for pay-per-view appearances.
WWE surely has a plan in place on how to pay these guys, and letting its Superstars in on that plan should have been one of the first steps in the launching process.
Wrestlers haven't been the only victims of unease over the impending arrival of the WWE Network. Not surprisingly, cable companies, which currently carry WWE pay-per-views, aren't thrilled with the idea of paying customers being able to go elsewhere for a lower price.
According to F4WOnline, via WrestlingInc.com, "Comcast is not happy about WWE moving pay-per-views to the Network, right now there is no serious talk of Comcast no longer carrying the pay-per-views via traditional means."
DirecTV had previously stated that it would need to "re-evaluate the economics and viability" of doing business with WWE, per LATimes.com. Should Comcast and others stick with WWE after the world of pay-per-views changes forever, it's hard to imagine DirecTV pulling away from WWE on its own.
Along with concern over profits, there is perhaps doubt about whether the WWE Network will work as a business model. After all, it's a groundbreaking venture.
Dana White, president of UFC, appears to have little faith in it. White shared his thoughts on the WWE Network at a media luncheon (h/t FoxSports.com):
"When I look at his model and he's basically taking everything in and devalued it. Saying everything we do is worth $10. That doesn't make sense to me."
What doesn't make sense is offering a dozen pay-pay-views a month that cost around $45 each and wondering why more fans aren't buying them. Even the most passionate of fans are going to hesitate to thrown down close to $600 a year on WWE programming.
Combining those pay-per-view events with a massive archive, all for an affordable price, will equal big money in the end, as far more fans will be inclined to consistently open their wallets.
White, whose business depends on pay-per-view revenue, may not share McMahon's vision at the moment, but if the WWE Network is a massive success, that narrative is sure to change. He's sure to be one of many folks watching to see how many fans subscribe once Feb. 24 rolls around.
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