Welcome to the first of many conversations between contributors that we like to call When Monsters Discuss… The first of these discussions will be Jarred and Aaron talking about the WWE Network.
Aaron Collier: Let’s talk about the Network a little bit. It has been out for a little over a month now. What are your initial impressions.
Jarred Collins: The first week I was disappointed in it, because of the technical issues. After the glitches were taken care of I have been impressed with the amount of content and how well it works.
AC: I think they are on the right track with the content, but the original content is kind of lacking. I have no interest in anything they are doing with their original content. I don’t care about Legends House or the pre or post-shows for either Raw or Smackdown. My biggest disappointment is with RAW not being replayed the next day. That was a bit disappointing.
I said I didn’t like any of their original content. Well…I lied. I love NXT.
I think that may be one of the best ideas WWE has come with. They have some great talent and even the commentators are great. William Regal should be on Raw. He is great as a commentating table.
JC: I agree that the original content is not that interesting. I understand what they want to do with Wrestlemania Rewind, but why not go and watch Wrestlemania.
NXT is a great product with lots of talent and could be the best show that they have. If they would have done ECW like NXT, ECW would still be around. The atmosphere is great and I love the fan participation.
AC: That is what I like most about it. It has the indie appeal we both love, but it has WWE’s television polish. I think we can both agree that WWE has made it’s mistakes, but their product has always looked sharp and NXT is no different.
JC: I also like WWE allowing top talent to come and actually work a match. The match with Cesaro and Sami Zayne was astounding.
AC: I do to. That match was amazing and I hope this is the style that WWE is going to adopt.
With the problems they had a launch, do you think they will have streaming problems with Wrestlemania? And if they do, what kind of backlash are they going to get?
JC: I can see problems with the stream. The problem as big as people missing all of Wrestlemania, or as small as lag in the stream, but probably some where in between. I don’t know if there has been something streaming to that many people for 3 hours. ROH seems to have lag and people miss minutes of a match and they only stream to, at the most, a couple of thousand. The backlash depends on how big the problem. People could drop their subscription, but most likely just a lot of complaining online.
AC: I’ll be surprised if they didn’t have some sort of issue. I don’t think think they can escape it with the streaming load plus all the different devices the app is on. They are just now got the bugs worked out for the Xbox app and I just ran a new update for the PS3 for it. I’m sure there will be some customers that may get kicked out of the steam, but I think they have it sured up enough that it won’t be a major issue.
Speaking of PPVs, do you really believe this is going to be $9.99 a month forever with the PPVs included? I sure don’t.
JC: If you are someone who gets the PPV’s every month then it is worth it. If you just watch the major PPV’s, then you could pay $12.99 and watch. But I do not see the appeal over the long run. I can’t see keeping it after the first 6 months or after the first year. I watch it in on occasion, but not every day.
AC: I actually watch it almost everyday. If they keep just the past content for 9.99 a month without the PPVs, I would still pay for it. Even if they had a package that included WM and Summerslam for $15 a month I would go for it. I think they are on to something, but I know to get the content and all the PPVs they are going to raise the price. It would be crazy for them not to.
JC: I can’t see them keeping the price at 9.99 for very long. They are going to use a large amount of revenue on the PPV’s and have to make it up somehow. I know they are trying to keep content fresh with adding older Raw and Smackdown [episodes], and WCCW and ECW shows. They have such a vast library they need to put out more each week to keep the interest up. I would love to see some Smokey Mountain Wrestling or Mid South.
AC: I think the decision to put out the major past content that everyone knows (WCW, ECW) was a genius. That bides them time to slowly put new content up from the territory days. This is going to be the wrestling library every fan has wanted since WWE bought all the competition. I would like to see more shows of wrestlers just sharing stories.
JC: I like the round table discussions they did. They should do more of that and integrate in matches. I know WWE has an ego and tends to push their product above all others but I think there is a large portion of the viewers who want to see more of the territory stuff, and older content that has been stored. They put a lot of it out when it was on the website but now it is stored again.
AC:I just think they are biding their time. I would rather them take their time and release it in small chunks then releasing everything and it get lost in the shuffle.
Let’s talk about something that is the big pink elephant in the room: Is WWE leading the charge for how we get our television channels? It seems like it is. They already angered Dish and the other providers can’t be happy about how they are offering their content and pay-per-views.
JC: I think in the long run this is how it will be. I think you will be able to subscribe to the channel you want to watch and then are able to stream the content at any time. I can see most of the cable companies fighting it because it will kill their service. There is already the battle over bandwidth and companies like Netflix paying to not have their services slowed down. In the long run if it is not embraced somehow it could kill cable. Comcast is trying to work out a deal with Apple TV right now.
AC: I agree 100%. You can say a lot about Vince McMahon, but he is a very smart businessman. If they released this as a cable channel offered the way we know television now, it would be really hard to sell that. The streaming model is genius and I hope we see more channels going that way. I worry about how much it will drive internet prices up, but it can’t be any worse than what we are paying for cable, right?
And who knew a conversation about wrestling would end up with the economic impact of streaming television and internet prices [laughs].
JC: If I could cut my cable and pay for the 4 or 5 channels I actually watch stuff on, I could save a little bit of money. If AMC would put out a channel I would be happy because everything else I watch is on Hulu. Netflix really started all of this and now they are the ones fighting to keep the rights to stream without punishment. The are actually trying to get the government to step in.
The one thing Vince will have to be careful of is hurting the sales of his DVD releases.
AC: I think they probably took the DVD sales into account. And I would say streaming it is much cheaper then physically producing DVD/Blu-rays and the the the box to put it in. I’m sure it’s not a great deal of money to do that, but I would think streaming would be higher profit return from the subscriptions.
Dana White said something the other day about it possibly cheapening the product. Basically saying that WWE is only worth 9.99 a month and it may reflect badly on the company and the product as a whole. Do you think they made it too cheap? UFC Fight Pass is around $20-$25 a month. Has WWE hurt it’s product’s value by going so low.
JC: I believe that they are using $9.99 to find their base for streaming content. If and when they can move Raw and Smackdown off of cable, the price will then go up. But before that happens I can see them increase the price a couple of times.
AC: Like we talked about before, there is less than a one percent chance they don’t raise the price. Let’s end this with two questions: In one year’s time, what is the price of the network and what do you want to see the network add or improve on for you to keep paying for it?
JC: In one year I can see the 6 month subscription price going to 12 or 13, and the month by month going to 15 or more.
For me to keep it I would like to see them expand upon the original content and, at least, see the introduction of several of the classic shows. WCW Saturday Night, Clash of the Champions, the old NWA-WCW Friday or Saturday night shows, Smokey Mountain TV and PPV’s, and some of the older shows that they did not put out, like the Great American Bash tour shows, Crockett Cups and other videos or shows that they have filmed. I love having the PPV’s to watch any time I want, but I want them to add the great stuff that is hard to find.
AC: I see the price going up to $19.99 in a year with all the PPVs included.
For me to pay that price I need RAW and Smackdown to be available to watch at least 48 hours after it airs. I also want more shows talking about wrestling history. They have the Monday Night Wars coming out which looks good, but I want more of that kind of stuff. Feed me useless wrestling knowledge so I can continue to tell people the history of Repo Man and still get the shocked face from people when they see I have pretty girlfriend.
JC: I don’t know if the price will jump up that fast, but I can see that happening after two or three years.
I agree with the wrestling history. If they do not film or show the stuff now most of the people who are involved or have a great memory of it will not be alive to much longer if the past trend continues.
AC: And that will conclude our first discussion. Do you have anything you want to add in closing, my friend.
JC: I have thoroughly enjoyed our conversation.
AC: Me too. The first of many I hope. Thanks!