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Yesterday was supposed to be the much anticipated launch of the WWE Network in the UK. Originally, the Network was supposed to be released on October 1st but was delayed on the eve of the launch. Fast forward to October 31st, WWE announced that the Network would be released on Monday November 1st at 8pm. As you can imagine, I, as well as many other fans, were excited at the prospect of finally getting our hands on the Network. The countdown was on. However, 20 minutes before the launch of the Network, WWE released a statement on twitter which I didn’t see coming; “”The launch of @WWENetwork in the U.K. has been delayed until further notice.” Talk about a kick in the bollocks!
Why has this happened? I’m not sure. I’m guessing it’s got something to do with Sky, the leading cable provider in the UK. Sky has a deal where they are able to broadcast PPVs on Sky Box Office and show Raw, Smackdown and other shows on various Sky Sports channels. The issue here is nothing to do with the TV shows; it’s the pay per views. Sky will lose money is the Network was launched. I mean why pay £14.95 for something when you could get it for £9.99? This issue is that Sky had already started marketing their Survivor Series pay per view at a price point of £14.95. When WWE suddenly announced last Thursday that the UK would get Survivor Series free on WWE Network, at that point the Sky representatives needed to act in order to protect their business. By the intervention happening at the last minute, WWE have been seriously embarrassed.
People are quit to point the blame at WWE for all this. I do have sympathy for them at this time but I do feel that they should share some of the blame also. They shouldn’t have advertised the release date unless they were absolute certain they could go ahead with it without any problems. Another suggestion would be to buy out the Sky Sports deal but it would be costly and not worth it financially considering how poorly the Network has performed so far.
That brings me on to my second point, why has the Network failed to live up to expectations? People are bound to find an illegal method of viewing it. YouTube is a free option but you don’t always get what you want on there. As an outsider looking in, The WWE Network is fantastic and once they add more content and more original programming, it will be an absolute success. It’s just a case of better promotion (I seriously hate it when they say 9.99 in a condescending way) and adding original content. Has the delays made me turn against it? Hell no, in fact, it’s done the opposite. I’m looking forward to it more than ever. I’m playing the waiting game now. In the meantime, there’s always the ICW on demand service…..