Tuesday, February 25, 2014

WWE Network: Day 1 Thoughts


Now that the first day of WWE Network is in the books I'd like to take this opportunity to give some really early thoughts on the product.

Let's start with some of the not-so-great aspects of today's launch.  Thanks to a tip from Norko (@TheBottomLine) I avoided the rush for subscribing to the WWE Network before 9:00 AM.  Due to that I was able to avoid the headache that many wrestling fans endured.  I had created my account for WWE.com when the network was announced and verified my passwords ahead of time.  Prior to 9:00 AM I was able to login, pay and complete my transaction without issue.  Many others were not so lucky.  Since I had other things to take care of I didn't get to do much other than fire up a PPV and see that it worked at that time.  It buffered on my once on an iPad and that was about it.

When I got home I downloaded the WWE App to my PS3.  I began to experience some of the issues I heard about where you may get an error message when you tried to play a video or with constant buffering.  I was finally able to get Starrcade 1997 to play though and watched all the way up to the DDP/Curt Hennig (c) US Title match.  It did stall out right before I was set to cut it off for the RAW Pre-Show however.  The Pre-Show played without issue and I signed out for RAW.  The PS3 got fired up again after RAW to watch WWE Backstage Pass which worked like a champ.  The WrestleMania Rewind episode about WrestleMania I then started playing and is still on without issue.

That was the extent of my technical issues with the network to this point.  While it is disappointing that so many dealt with issues today I think the WWE Network held up well enough considering it debuted today and the crush of people attempting to signup on WWE.com and access the channel itself.

I spent more time on the technical aspect of my WWE Network experience so I'm going to use my old tried and true bullet points for the actual programming.  I hope to go more in depth on these programs as I'm able to watch more as well.
  • RAW Pre-Show really delivered in my opinion.  It struck the perfect balance of presenting and discussing wrestling in the manner of a sport without being too dry.  The panel was entertaining and made good points.  It didn't surprise me that Flair and Book were good, but Alex Riley impressed the heck out of me.  Good work from that guy.
  • WrestleMania Rewind: WM I was really interesting.  I like the format of the show even if these shows aren't going to cover a ton of new ground for hardcore fans.  
  • Starrcade 1997 was a fun watch and I look forward to browsing the PPV library further.  For me, I'm really interested in working through some of the WCW PPVs from the early-90's when I had walked away from wrestling.  Except for the beginning of the nWo angle I never spent a ton of money on PPVs so there is a ton of stuff there from WWE, WCW and ECW for me to dig into.  I'm also looking forward to viewing the current PPVs because I only buy WrestleMania.  I feel like being able to see these shows will fill in a gap in my wrestling fandom and will give me something good to look forward to one Sunday a month. 
  • Theme songs can be problematic due to licensing reasons, etc.  It's disappointing, but to be expected.
  • The "linear network" aspect of this deal is really cool.  It does make it that much more enjoyable than just having access to tons of On Demand content.  Right now I have it open in another tab on my computer and I'm just listening to it as background noise.  The fact that you can have them help you figure out to watch is nice because you're less likely to get stuck in a Netflix "searching more than watching mode."  WrestleMania 25 will be aired on Sunday night for example.  The original programming looks promising as well.   
WWE has done a tremendous job on this project I'd say at this point. This really is a dream come true for wrestling fans and barring any massive change in pricing or content availability this should be and I think will be a huge success.

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