The WWE Network is back in the headlines this week after WWE was unable to make their launch date of October 1st in the United Kingdom. In a statement released by the company on Tuesday, WWE announced the Network will be delayed given discussions with potential partners. A new launch date for the WWE Network in the UK is scheduled to be announced by November 1st. Here was the statement:
The launch of WWE Network in the U.K. will be delayed given discussions with potential partners. A launch date will be announced by November 1
A representative from Sky Sports told Wrestling News World reader Michael Westphal there will be no change to their WWE coverage once the WWE Network launches (the full message can be read here). Sky Sports will continue to offer all WWE pay-per-views -- currently 14 a year -- in their current format in addition to their availability on the WWE Network.
Until we hear otherwise, the WWE Network will be available as an over the top service in the United Kingdom just as it is in the United States and in numerous other markets. The only market where the WWE Network is a traditional Pay-TV Channel is on Rogers Communications systems in Canada, where it is available on channel 512 on an a-la-carte basis.
Vince McMahon was asked on the latest conference call with investors why they went this route in Canada. Below is an excerpt from our exclusive coverage:
A caller asked why WWE chose to go this route in Canada and it seems to be a step away from what they’re doing in the US. Vince said they’re Canadian and they look at things a little different. He doesn’t know if they’re going to do that anywhere else. It could [happen in other markets] when you combine both their core programming and the WWE Network. Barrios wouldn’t discuss the different economics with the Rogers Communications deal. Vince explained it was an offer they couldn’t turn down.
In other words, WWE combined their new 10-year deal with Rogers Communications and the WWE Network to get paid a sum they couldn't turn down. The company has stressed they are creative when signing TV licensing deals and won't turn down a good deal.
The New York Postreported last month that McMahon had not shut the door on adopting a premium cable-TV channel model for the WWE Network in the United States. According to their report, McMahon is keeping a close eye on the company’s partnership with Rogers Communications in Canada to see what distribution is like.
WWE tried for well over a year to secure clearances on cable and satellite systems before launching the WWE Network as an over the top service. Moving forward, the WWE Network has replaced pay-per-view as a key driver for the company. Other key drivers include television ratings and domestic live event attendance.