Soooo…this sure is interesting.
I’ve held off writing anything about the WWE Network here even though I think it sounds like a pretty amazing thing if you’re a wrestling fan. The reason is simple. They didn’t roll the damn thing out in Canada and I didn’t feel like dinking around with VPN’s and foreign subscription addresses just to watch it because I knew it’d get here sooner or later.
Well, sooner has just arrived in an announcement today, but in a rather unexpected way. Here, have a press release.
ROGERS AND WWE® ANNOUNCE LANDMARK TELEVISION AND WWE® NETWORK AGREEMENT
TORONTO, July 31, 2014 – Rogers Communications and WWE (NYSE: WWE) today announced a historic 10-year broadcast and multimedia agreement, making Rogers the exclusive distributor of WWE’s flagship programming in Canada through 2024. The deal extends WWE’s current programming on Sportsnet 360 and includes the right to distribute WWE Network as a premium linear channel, with a preview beginning August 12.
Rogers will be the exclusive distribution partner of all WWE pay-per-view events throughout Canada and will sponsor an application to the CRTC to bring the popular WWE Network to Canada. Starting August 12, a preview of WWE Network content, including live WWE pay-per-view events, groundbreaking original series, live in-ring action, reality shows and a video-on-demand library, will be available on a subscription basis on Rogers Channel 512. Rogers will offer this WWE Network content preview subscription to all cable, satellite and IPTV providers across Canada.
Fans in Canada will receive more WWE programming than ever before through Rogers’ cable and digital assets. Highlights from the new deal also include national rights for Raw®, SmackDown® and Main Event® on Sportsnet 360, Sportsnet NOW and Rogers Anyplace TV.
“This landmark deal is a win-win for WWE fans in Canada,” said Scott Moore, President of NHL & Sportsnet, Rogers. “The premium WWE content offers our customers more of the programming they want, on any platform of their choosing. We are thrilled to continue our partnership with WWE, and deliver exclusive content to its passionate fan base in Canada for the next decade.”
“We are excited to expand our partnership with Rogers as we look for innovative ways to grow our brand and further the reach of our programming in Canada through their vast distribution channels and marketing platforms,” said Gerrit Meier, WWE Executive Vice President, International. “The structure of this new agreement demonstrates WWE’s commitment to growing our brand internationally through integrated partnerships as well as the flexibility we have in rolling out WWE Network around the world.”
To my knowledge, this is the first deal WWE has cut with a traditional cable company for carriage of the network, and I’m pretty sure the idea starting out wasn’t to even try. In fact, the providers in the States aren’t on the best of terms with WWE right now because of the drop in pay-per-view revenue that’s inevitably going to come with offering all of them on your own online service for $10 per month rather than $45 or $50 each through the regular TV. A couple have even gone as far as to drop WWE PPVs entirely.
There were a couple of things not mentioned here that I’d like to know.
First, what’s the price going to be? Rogers wouldn’t do something like this without being reasonably sure that there would be a decent return on investment, so is $9.99 a month off the table?
And are we still going to be able to buy the network through WWE directly, or are we going to have to go through Rogers whether we want a TV or an online version? This one’s quite important to me because of the accessibility factor. I can’t use on demand services because the options aren’t read aloud, which worketh not for the blind kid. I’ve heard decent things about the usability of the Network on iOS with Voiceover, but if Rogers is handling that aspect of distribution I’m probably fucked, because they’ve got a less than shiny track record when it comes to building anything online that isn’t hot garbage. If the price is decent and the live programming kicks in automatically when you go to the channel, I could live with that. I’m not one who often goes back and watches things again, so I can survive without using on demand myself unless I’m paying a premium for it (I.E. Anything much higher than $10 a month). If I do want to go back and watch something, I know how the internet works, *coughcough*.
Here’s hoping August 12th won’t be a disappointing day for me. I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on the WWE Network since it launched back in February, and this should finally be my chance. Don’t screw this up for me, Rogers!