With its launch less than three weeks away, officials are testing the WWE Network but still haven't discussed how it will affect Superstars' pay.
Those are among the most notable news stories surrounding the Network, highlighting both WWE's wise and poor decisions. The company is also reportedly discussing how ratings will change post-launch. An update on Apple TV compatibility and which pay-per-views will be included will make many fans happy.
Even with all the assured positives, there is still uncertainty around the Network, just as there would be with any groundbreaking business venture.
DirecTV has talked about reevaluating its business with Vince McMahon and company over fear of WWE Network's potential negative effects on business. WWE appears to be trying to soothe over broadcast networks to avoid similar tension.
Wrestling Observer, via WrestlingInc.com, reports that, "WWE is trying to sell its broadcast partners on the idea that the Network will raise WWE's popularity so that whether it's the USA Network or Sky, ratings will be increasing this year."
One theory is that fans immersed in pro wrestling programming via the WWE Network will be more thrilled to see Raw every week. The less appealing scenario for both USA and WWE is that fans simply get lost in the archives and show little interest in the current product.
While there may be some lingering unknowns about what effects the new venture will have, fans can now be sure that they can view it on Apple TV.
A fan sent word to PWInsider.com, saying that a WWE representative wrote the following:
In order to experience WWE Network on an Apple TV, you must have a second generation or later (black) Apple TV and be a WWE Network subscriber. Once WWE Network is available, you will be able to launch the WWE Newmarket app directly from your Apple TV.
There's been some confusion about whether or not Apple TV would be one of the myriad devices one could view WWE Network on, and that is as clear of a response as one could get.
Another question on many minds is if the WWE Network be able to handle all the traffic it receives. Will fans be settled in for WrestleMania XXX only to watch their screen freeze and the program crash? The company is reportedly prepping to avoid that exact scenario.
PWInsider, via WrestlingInc.com, reports that "WWE has started beta-testing the WWE Network privately in-house to get any bugs out before it goes live later this month."
Ring of Honor's Internet pay-pay-views were bogged down by streaming issues, leading the company to abandon the concept altogether, via WrestleZone.com. WWE can't afford to have similar problems with as much as it has invested in launching the Network.
The launch and the stream of WrestleMania XXX has to go smoothly or else customers will be scared off.
In the company's preparation process, it appears that it has still not tackled the issue of addressing the Superstars on what changes to expect. The reported reason for that is maddening.
Per PWInsider, via WrestlingInc.com, "There's a feeling within WWE that the company hasn't spoken to talents about the Network because they just don't know yet how it will change everything."
With all the planning that had to go into creating the WWE Network, how can officials not know how it will affect wrestlers' pay-per-view bonuses and other financial concerns? The technology and marketing aspects of the Network are vital, but the wrestlers are the center of the programming.
Was WWE too concerned with the archive element of the Network to focus sufficient attention on how this would change things for the performers themselves? If so, that's a mistake that will surely anger the Superstars and cause WWE problems it could have avoided.
This remains one of the issues that threaten to temper the WWE Network's success. In the category of "things WWE got absolutely right," however, the company has not been shy about including controversial pay-per-views in its library.
WWE.com listed all the pay-per-views that would be available at launch. The most surprising inclusions include Over the Edge 1999 and WrestleMania XX.
The latter features Chris Benoit in the main event, winning the world title. The tragic end to Benoit's life had many fans thinking that WWE would simply skip this show or at least cut out his part in it.
As Wrestling Observer, via WrestleZone.com, reported in January, WWE will include material with Benoit preceded by an advisory.
The Over the Edge show is most famous for it being the night when Owen Hart fell to his death. WWE is certainly not going to air that portion of the pay-per-view, but it's surprising to see the company not just avoid the show altogether.
Fans will still get to see Undertaker take on Steve Austin and The New Age Outlaws fight each other, a sign of WWE's commitment to completeness when it comes to the WWE Network. There are still the proverbial kinks to work out, but there is plenty of reason to count down to Feb. 24, the day the WWE Network goes live.
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