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Posted in: The PEN15 Mightier
The PEN15 Mightier - WWE Network and PPV Structure
By pen15
Dec 14, 2011 - 4:39:13 PM

WWE Network

I haven’t had a cable or satellite service since I moved out from my parent’s basement. When I made that bold move, I knew I needed to cut costs, and felt that I had spent too many nights sitting in front of Law and Order repeats or lame sitcoms that only made me laugh once or twice a show. The convenience of having almost any program at their fingertips turned many into couch potato zombies, me included.

So, I made the decision that in my new apartment, I would not partake in sharing the cable bill with my roommates, but had no problem putting the internet under my name, and sharing it (for a price of course). Because I knew through the internet, I would never miss out on the few shows I would still watch: South Park, and wrestling. Torrent downloading would give me access to all of these things (it wouldn’t be long until I discovered the live streams, but at that time, I had not yet become the pirate I currently am) so I never missed having TV. Plus, before having a computer with HDMI output, I could play AVI files on my DVD/Divx player which would allow the big screen feeling.

Fast forward to today.

The WWE network has me considering upgrading to a digital cable set up. Luckily, I work for a cable company, and with discounts, and knowledge on promotions and other garbage, it won’t be as big a hit on my budget as it once was. I don’t doubt that I’ll be able to access it with my local provider, as they already carry the now expiring WWE on Demand.

But as excited as I am initially for this concept, I wonder if it would be worth it. I just did the math, and adding cable to my current internet bill with a bundle would be an extra $40 (with taxes) for just the basic package, which would allow me to add the WWE network at whatever cost it may be. The WWE on Demand is $9.95/month here, while adult networks are $15. So, I’ll be fair and estimate it’ll be 12.50/month.

I’ll essentially be paying 55$ a month to watch WWE Network.

Now, thankfully, the company I would get service from has no contracts, so I could decide in 3 months that the cost is not worth it, and disconnect. So luckily I won’t have to worry about that. But not everyone would have this luxury. What if after 3 months, we notice the amount of repeats goes up exponentially? Sure, it’ll be great when it starts, everything would be fresh.

But let’s look at almost any network or channel out there, and the amount of repeats they already air. Even premium channels like HBO have too many repeats, whether you like the programming or not. Let’s face it, anyone reading this is a wrestling fan, but there’s no doubt that there will be programming on the network that will not please us. There’s no one here that will watch 24/7 and love every minute of it. It just won’t happen.

And commercials… While internet wrestling news is rarely more credible than National Enquirer, doesn’t the WWE have trouble finding sponsors? Once in a while, when I get a streaming live feed from Spike TV, or the British feeds for WWE, I see the same commercials over and over. While the quality of British commercials is much better than the trash found on most American networks, there’s still no tolerance in my mentality to deal with commercials. WWE programming will no doubt be 10 times worse, as most will be adverts for their own shows and services. Lovely.

And the programming rumored to be added so far, while interesting, is not exactly worth the price tag. Sure, seeing Iron Sheik waking up in the morning to fight over the butter dish with Mean Gene Okerlund may make me giggle, but I won’t want to pay money to see it.

If I’m tuning into WWE TV, it’s to watch wrestling. And so far, I’m not seeing enough evidence that I’ll be getting it.

Now, I’m an anal person. I love order, chronological, alphabetical…etc. I love organizing all my DVDs/CDs/downloads in the correct position (I recently finished downloading every NWA and WCW PPV event, and have them backed up as AVI and MPG files on DVDs in a spindle spanning from 1983 to 2001, in chronological order) and would like my programming to be similar. I don’t demand every show be in order, but I’d love to tune in every Monday at 7, and weekly watch every Raw since its inception, and then air the live broadcast of Raw. After watching the Cena show, follow it with every episode of Monday Nitro. So Raw from January 1993, then live Raw in 2012, then Nitro from September 1995. And a month later, it should be Feb 93 Raw, live Raw 2012, and Nitro from October 95. Air the original shows on a weekly basis starting with the first.

Hell, on Sundays do the same with PPVs leading up to the live WWE PPV. I would love to tune into WWE Network on Sunday afternoon, and watch a WWF PPV, followed by an ECW one, then maybe an NWA one, then the live PPV offered by WWE. And every PPV Sunday, we see the next PPV from each company.

I’m not saying you can’t have a specials on prime time where we air the random matches or events, but give me, the anal “in order” asshole, a regular chronological airing of classic programming, and I’ll be a happy man.

That idea alone would make the network worth my money. Now, they don’t have to be the exact time frame I suggested, but I thought they made the most sense. It would be cheap to produce, as it’s already prepared programming. No need for lame intros by Josh Matthews to introduce us to Wrestlemania IV. Just pop in the DVD, and air it.

Hell, grab the old Coliseum Video collections, and air them! I’d have no problem with the monthly fee if I could watch the original SuperTape in its entirety. Or Best of WWF Vol 14. Or the 60 minute VHS about the British Bulldogs from 1987.

The WWE has a shitload of material they can use that would make the network worth the price of admission. My problem is that in 2012, WWE doesn’t seem as in-tune with their audience as they once were, and instead of delivering to the wrestling fans, they’ll be selling for a wider audience. Now, I’m not a business analyst (Tito, if you’re reading, you should do something about the network from a business perspective) so I won’t pretend that I know what I’m talking about. But, I’m a consumer, and in general, I’m a very casual fan friendly minded member of the IWC. I tend to step outside the general internet consensus and can stay in tune with what the general public would prefer. But, I don’t see the logic in selling a WWE channel to anyone but wrestling/WWE fans. The kids that John Cena caters to won’t be the ones deciding to buy this channel. Sure, they may ask mom and dad, and they might agree to try it. But it won’t be long for kids to lose interest in most of the programs and the subscription is canceled.

It seems logical that the WWE feeds to the easiest market they can, using the material they have: wrestling. Sure, fill it in with other things. If I can tune in to Clash of the Champions and Saturday Night’s Main Event, both originally broadcast in 1988, and in between I see WWE Legends House or Diva Showdown, or whatever craptastic moronic shit WWE thinks I’d be interested in, I may end up catching it. But I won’t schedule my TV watching for that sludge.

Oh, and something that seems genius yet has not yet been brought up: Exclusive live wrestling on Network only! Turn a Saturday live event into a live supershow production once every 3-4 months, call it Saturday Night’s Main Event, and air it only on the Network. Giving exclusive content will be key, but there’s been no mention of live exclusive content.

Honestly, while the name Saturday Night’s Main Event is a great selling point, I think the WWE would benefit from having a simple house show recorded and aired. It would give the audience to see what occurs when the entire production is not there. Some fans might feel the intimacy of a live event through their TV screen, and decide they need to experience it live the next time WWE is in town.

PPV Scheduling

The rumor is that some of the live PPVs will be aired on the Network. Now, none of the rumors seem to stay the same from day to day, as I’ve heard the big 4 would be aired here, while I’ve heard that the big 4 would be remaining as PPV.

Logically, I think the WWE will attempt to use Wrestlemania XXVIII to initially sell the Network, but it would be wise to keep the bigger shows as the ones paid for by event. I suggested surrounding PPV Sundays with older PPVs on the WWE Network, but that idea would work as pre-shows to order the PPV still. I’ll gladly watch old shows on the Network, switch to PPV for an event worth my while, and switch back afterwards.

But I think with the upcoming WWE Network, the WWE would be in prime position to change a few things up. Now, if you’ve read my blogs on Lopforums.com, or my posting in the forums, I will be repeating some ideas I have thrown out before.

Basically, I feel the WWE needs to return to their format from 1995-1997, with the In Your House system. The Big events should remain 3-4 hours, but there’s no doubting that the WWE struggle with filling these shows in between. With the exception of Money in the Bank, Elimination Chamber, and TLC, most of the newer PPVs have not really caught on as major draws. We saw Vengeance reach the lowest buyrate draw in recent history.

So, take a chance, and try some different approaches. WWE needs to experiment with cheaper and shorter events. Over the Limit can be a 3 hour show, with the first hour free on the Network, with the last 2 hours on PPV at only 30$. This basically follows the UFC format, where they air prelims on facebook or a smaller network, then the PPV with the 5 big main card fights. You could main event a WWE Network broadcast of the first hour of Vengeance with the Intercontinental Championship defended, and then have the PPV start following that match.

Now, I wouldn’t put it past the WWE to start the match on free TV, but force us to buy the PPV to see the finish, but I **** hope they wouldn’t stoop that low. BUT, the room is there to have something occur during the first hour that leads into the PPV. If the main event of the PPV is Mark Henry vs Big Show, and in the Free For All on the WWE Network, we see Big Show attacked backstage, it would be a decent cliffhanger as to what may occur.

I wouldn’t automatically change to this format on a bi-monthly basis, but try it out with an event or two over 2012, and see if buyrates go up for these shows. If we see Vengeance and Capitol Punishment buyrates increase as 2 hour PPVs, expend it to other ones.

Another idea that should be revisited, brand specific PPVs. Especially if the idea of 2 hour shows is a success. Instead of seeing 4 PPVs split up between Smackdown and Raw over the year, only do one each yearly, and see if that clicks. I suspect that it would, which could lead to seeing 2 PPVs from each brand a year.

My last idea is in the name of the events themselves. I’m not against the idea of a Hell in a Cell Pay Per View. I’m against the idea of forcing angles into the Cell every October, even if the feuds don’t suit that environment. So, my suggestion is against a callback to the era of In Your House, and having subtitles for the events. Instead of Vengeance, it would be Vengeance: Hell in a Cell, because there was a grudge feud that needed the cell to end the angle. If in May you have 3 contenders to the WWE Title, then the event should be Over the Limit: Fatal Four Way. If the next year, there’s a great rematch from Wrestlemania that needs the Cell, it should be Over the Limit: Hell in a Cell.

Basically, don’t force the gimmick into the monthly schedule, but give the events a brand of their own. I have no problem naming a PPV Hell in a Cell, nor am I against a show that features 2-3 matches in the Cell. But there’s no doubt that some angles are forced into using the gimmick of the next PPV.

TLC is a great idea as it is wide open with variety. You can have a TLC match, a Tables match, a Chairs match, and a Ladder match. And this year, to be fair, only 2 of the 4 gimmick matches make sense to the feud. Mark Henry/Big Show have had chairs involved since the summer, so I see no issue with that one. Nash vs HHH with the sledgehammer hanging above the ring in a ladder match is an innovative way to switch gears, and the sledge is definitely involved in that grudge.

But the WWE Title match and the Orton vs Barrett match are easily taking advantage of the gimmicks more than needing them. As strong a PPV as TLC has been, and as much as I’m an advocate of it being inserted between Survivor Series and Royal Rumble, I don’t think it should be plugged in there. I’d much rather see that event become Starrcade: TLC (NWA/WCW fans can shut up, along with the ECW fans who bitched about WWE using that name for the Tuesday Night show which was about 184 times better than anything original ECW ever did, or what WWE was doing at the time as well. Traditionalist assholes with no defense against change other than “It’s tradition” can suck my asshole dry).

So, wait until TLC can be developed, I don’t care of it’s for the Survivor Series. Forcing into gimmicks is a terrible idea. The only ones that work are the Rumble, Elimination Chamber, Extreme Rules, and Night of Champions. Those gimmick events all feed into their schedule, or don’t force angles.

In Conclusion
- Shorter/Cheaper PPVs
- Lead-in (Free For All) shows on the Network
- Brand PPVs monthly, not by gimmick
- Make gimmicks the subtitle to BRANDED shows
- Bring back Raw/Smackdown specific shows, but not as often per year

And on that note, peace out.

Feel free to email me a comment (Email PEN15). One of the best parts of writing is the discussions that come out of it. I don’t look at the facebook comments too much, so I’ll hope for your email instead. My hope is that your response could be used in a column to publicly discuss your comments.
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