WWE recently sent out a survey detailing possibilities for the WWE Network. After taking a look at the survey I realized they are on a full out quest for content domination.
Which makes perfect sense. If they are able to add more exclusive content then they might be able to add in tiers for pricing. The survey included special live events, original scripted dramas, TNA, Ring of Honor, and house shows.
So let's review the survey's first options. Special live events make sense. Give us shows from unique locations. I am all for that! Like how WWE was planning a live version of Bash at the Beach. Having a WWE event on a beach would be insane to watch. That's what made events like Tribute to the Troops cool. Seeing WWE in a different setting.
Original scripted dramas is the section I'm going to dive right into. This is what it says from the survey.
Wrestling-themed series inspired by wrestling's colorful and rich history such as a WWE's version of Game of Thrones.
How much cocaine do you have to do to pitch a WWE version of Game of Thrones? Maybe WWE got the wording wrong on the survey. They could of meant they wanted to do a prestige television series similar to Thrones, Walking Dead, or Breaking Bad. Wouldn't that essentially be GLOW from Netflix. Most likely, and I don't think that will be a selling point for the network. If WWE thinks of a scripted drama they could pull from their own history. Have a biographical series on Eddie Guerrero, a show about the Wyatt family mythology, or even adopt the BROKEN Hardy Universe. A live-action, drama series about the Monday Night War would sell. Anything mentioning the Monday Night War sells.
Ring of Honor and TNA programming could be fascinating for some viewers. I laugh that WWE worded TNA with a bunch of slashes. TNA/Global Force Wrestling/ IMPACT even WWE doesn't know what's going on. Ring of Honor has always been WWE's secret developmental territory. We could call it NXT Jr. at this right.
TV-14 in-ring show. WWE is sending out floaters about possibly resurrecting ECW. Possibly, a new edgier promotion that would have a weekly show. This is WWE just teasing us at this rate. Many fans have argued that WWE is at its very best when they are allowed to push the envelope. The PG rating limits the ability to tell stories and push exciting promos. No way does squeaky clean WWE do a TV-14 show in 2017. We live in a different world now. ECW would get hammered by critics. We have politically correct WWE fans that would hate the direction of the show.
WWE Director's Cut was another suggestion on the long list of programming ideas. Basically where wrestlers, commentators, referees, and those who were there give their commentary and analysis. So for example Hulk Hogan narrating WrestleMania III.
WWE then once again goes on to suggest "Other Promotions" this time including ICW, PROGRESS, and New Japan Pro Wrestling. There is no way NJPW would sell out to WWE. Not now with NJPW World, the streaming service taking full force. I could see ICW and PROGRESS going on the network but that kind of move really benefits the little guy involved. It won't move the subscriber's needle when it comes down to it. Very few would pay more than $9.99 just to get PROGRESS and ICW.
The Audio Channel section of the WWE Network cracks me up. It's a streaming network and you want to add audio? WWE just go out and create your own podcasting network. I'm sure hardcore fans would pay for it. In my personal opinion I rather watch a Edge and Christian TV show instead of listening to one of their podcasts. Although I do enjoy their podcasts. Plus I'm sure WWE could snag the podcasting rights to Steve Austin, Jim Ross, and other important wrestling figures. Although I think the audio channel section is mostly unnecessary but some aspects gained my interest. Like play by play of pay-per-views this could be good for someone who is driving somewhere and can't stream or watch the pay-per-view. The music playlist is eh. Sports radio show is another boring option. I really dig the play by play option though. It would be interesting to see how WWE implements this in the network if this option tallies enough support.
Original scripted comedies.... ah yes probably the same executive and or writer who suggested the WWE version of Game of Thrones. This time saying a WWE version of The Office. The format for that show would be extremely interesting due to the amount of breaking kayfabe the crew would have to do. A mockumentary inside the already zany world of WWE may be enticing for some fans. For others it doesn't push the needle that much.
WWE Superstar Roasts hosted by The New Day. Now that is a scripted comedy worth tuning into.
As the survey continues it gives the option for more reality TV shows. Something that I'm sure is already planned for the WWE Network. I mean within the survey they gave a working title for Legends House- Season 2 The Attitude Era. I bet the show has already started pre-production. WWE Cribs has potential to be a watchable entry. WWE-style Apprentice is a hard pass. (Unless Vince convinces his buddy The President to do it. Then it becomes a must watch for the American public and Twitter.)
WWE in the survey introduced the premium priced features. Here are some examples. Social viewing would be watching WWE Network and having a social experience with friends. Next option is the download to go option which has already started to appear on Netflix. This option would definitely add value to a higher price network. Having the ability to watch the content offline would truly be worth the upgraded price. WWE's next option was social sharing which would allow users to share playlists, and clips from there favorite shows on the network.
Alternate audio was another option that was discussed for the new premium network. Which as a example would allow Jerry "The King" Lawler and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin would call a pay-per-view. This leads to a interesting development. The alternate commentators would need to be briefed about the past events to coherently commentate a past pay-per-view. This feature isn't the most exciting but it shows how hard WWE is trying to diverse the network.
Speaking of making the network more diverse. WWE listed a option for Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality for the WWE Network. This will give viewers the ability to view content like you are sitting at ringside for historic and current WWE events. This feature would use a headset and would also feature computer-generated graphics.
WWE is continuing to push the premium pricing for the network. These next set of options continue the trend for a more expensive yet personalized network. Which the first option is ironically personalization. This feature would allow you to change the overall look of your network and how you assemble your playlists. Also designs could be based off of your favorite superstars and eras of wrestling.
WWE may introduce a rating system for the network. That would grade matches and events out of five stars. So basically the future of the network someone may click WrestleMania and they will see WrestleMania III with a five star rating, WrestleMania 32 with a one star rating, and WrestleMania 33 with a four and half star rating. Those could be examples for this rating system. WWE could also do a Rotten Tomatoes style interface but I doubt WWE would want fans dissing the product.
WWE continues with the alternate theme. Alternate viewing may become available on the premium network. Alternate viewing options would allow viewers to watch WWE in-ring shows using different camera options (gorilla cam, drone cam, Go-Pro cam.). The feature will also allow viewers to view in 360. Very similar to the earlier virtual reality feature that I discussed.
The last section of the survey discusses details on non-watchable ideas that my eventually get integrated into the WWE Network or the future WWE Premium Network. Preferred pricing that would include deals on WWE VIP deals and offers from WWE sponsors. The ability to listen to WWE's monthly conference calls. WWE executives Stephanie McMahon and Triple H would be on the call talking about WWE's operations and business. The ability for "Sweepstakes Entries" that would allow fans the ability to win unique experiences from WWE.
These features also include early access on merchandise and free shipping from WWEshop.com. Early access to tickets, fan voting on match participants, Hall of Fame inductees, and Slammy winners. Loyalty program that would give back to the loyal consumer of the product. The final option is get "Breaking News First" that could be interesting but the people who receive it would just leak it and hype it up. I mean you think Sports Illustrated, Pro Wrestling Sheets, Cageside Seats, and my good friends over at Daily DDT wouldn't break the news before WWE sends out that alert? I mean all of these websites have sources and they can break stories probably faster than WWE wants them released.
Also why use that WWE breaking news feature when ZWrestleTalk has accurately reported many WWE happenings. I didn't nickname my Twitter the "Woj of Wrestling" for nothing. I will continue to due my very best to cover WWE for the loyal followers of ZWrestleTalk.
The WWE Network is on a quest for complete content domination. To paraphrase a quote from one of the founders of the sports website The Athletic. "WWE sees Ring of Honor, IMPACT (TNA), ICW, and PROGRESS all as empty calories." WWE is truly trying to enhance user experience on the network. The company according to this survey is looking for innovative and also wild solutions to keep the WWE Network fresh. The company obviously has a goal to do a premium version of the network. WWE is just taking their sweet time to make that $11.99 or $14.99 a month worthwhile for the average wrestling fan. I'm still betting that most will stick with the cozy $9.99 package unless WWE starts to screw with the lower priced tier.
WWE trying to think of innovative ways to watch the product is brilliant. The possibility of watching matches in virtual reality is a exciting development. New ways to experience WWE will keep fans curious about watching the network.
The more wild approach from WWE is trying to create TV series similar to The Office or Game of Thrones but themed to WWE. I just don't see that working out for them. Just bring back Breaking Ground, the show that captivated audiences with NXT superstar who were hungry to make it into a very hard business. That show was so fascinating due to the fact it was real. The people that were introduced on the show made you enjoy their characters on NXT more. You also got to witness the harsh realities of the business. So WWE Network needs to bring Breaking Ground back as part of getting more content for the network.
WWE's quest to have endless content is now very noticeable. Will WWE figure out how to make a pricier network? Will they lose subscribers if they remove content from the lower tier network? So many questions that should be answered as WWE continues to dominate their own content model. On their quest to dominate content and the entire wrestling atmosphere.
Creator of ZWrestleTalk. This page I give you my thoughts on the current state of the WWE product. I look back at the history of WWE. Sometimes even predict the future. If your lucky you get comedic articles too.