Many have asked about the WWE Network and I have obtained an exclusive update. I’m told that if the projected November 2012 launch happens at all, it will be a very “soft” launch in just a few select markets. January 2013 is becoming more and more likely for the launch but the company is also trying to see if they can technically launch the network in some form in November and expand in January.
Under this model, the plan would be for Royal Rumble 2013 to be live on the WWE Network. The big selling point for the network would be that Royal Rumble would be the first of “ten super cards” on the WWE Network next year with Wrestlemania and SummerSlam remaining on pay-per-view.
The company has gone back and forth on whether or not to leave the Rumble on pay-per-view but Vince McMahon’s current decision is for it to be free on the network and used as a way to get the network as much penetration as possible.
The current plan for pricing is a launch price of $14.95 a month with a plan in place to get the price to $19.95 within the first 30 months of launch, most likely via 2-3 small price increases during that 30 month period. The company wants that $20 monthly price point, but realizes it’s a bit high to launch at that price right off the bat.
As for clearance, WWE has pretty much “completely given up” on being a digital tier network. After spending all year trying to get clearances, they failed to get enough systems to agree to carry them to even clear 10% of the country, which was really a “complete disaster.” Launching as a premium subscription service is their only option but because it’s a complete change in direction from the original plan, not only are they still struggling to get clearances, they’re also having to renegotiate the few clearances they were able to get in the first place.
All and all, that’s where things stand. To recap, a possible “soft” launch in November 2012 followed by an expanded launch in January 2013. All pay-per-views moving to the network with the exception of Wrestlemania and SummerSlam with the channel being a premium channel that is paid for like that of HBO. As plans change, we will make sure to update.