The WWE Network launched Monday and I decided to take advantage of the free week long preview. The network, which will cost 9.99 per month with a 6 month commitment offers hourly programming along with a large collection of WWE related on demand options ala HBO-Go or Netflix. The network had its problems due to issues with some of its app developers, namely Xbox but the product itself is compelling and is laying the groundwork for something that could well become a model for future Internet based networks.
The Salad Days
This week viewers accessing the linier feed of the network were greeted by repeated announcements from the McMahon family as they thanked their fans and supporters for jumping in on the venture. Vince McMahon smiled like a proud papa as he welcomed viewers
to the new interactive experience. I would imagine that over time if the network gains clout and subscribers that we could see more product adds. As of right now top properties Internet properties like watch ESPN and Hulu/Hulu Plus do not generate the advertising interest that normal television broadcast stations do. It will be interesting to see how that develops going forward across the “over the top” broadcasting world.
Live Programming Video Quality
There have only been a couple of opportunities to view true live programming this week but we
tuned in to its signature broadcast, the Monday Night Raw post event show on Monday. For this test I used both a Roku 3 and a laptop, an iPad 4 and the Chromecast. The picture via the Roku 3 was crisp and beautiful. The colors popped right off the screen. There was no buffering and the broadcast felt like any other linier broadcast. My laptop also displayed the broadcast with no issue but the video quality did not match the Roku 3. The Streaming quality of the WWE on an iPad 4 was crisp and vibrant. In order to test the Chromecast it had to be used in conjunction with a laptop and the Google Chrome browser. This is where we saw a major drop off. The audio lagged and the action was a bit choppy. This problem has less to do with the WWE network than it does the inconsistency of the tab casting experience which can be effected by things like the quality of a home wifi network or the laptop itself. Therefore that problem can not be laid at the Feet of the WWE. The experience was the same when viewing the on demand content offered by the network. The archived materials and past events played well across the numerous streaming devices from the windows computer, set top devices and tablet.
Set Top Devices
Currently the WWE Network is available on The Apple TV and Roku. Both devices display the WWE Work in Full HD. I saw no difference in the audio or video quality of either device. Both devices were easy to pair with the network using their interfaces and were easy to navigate. Apple TV has its WWE app ready to roll before the initial Monday rush of subscribers began to access it. Roku Added a WWE channel before the launch date and can be found in new channels as well as listed under Featured, New, and sports..(yes I know Pro Wrestling is not a sport)
The biggest hiccup of the week for the WWE network has been a problem concerning its app for the Xbox 360. Xbox users have had limited access to the content which prompted the network to address the concern in an email that went out to its subscribers. There have been no major reports about problems with the Playstation 3 or 4.
Confession. I grew up a wrestling fan watching Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair on Saturdays and Sunday night pay per views so the chance to relive a bit of childhood for a week was fun. But I was not interested in investing a full $60.00 in order to sign up for 6 months. I must say that I was pleased that when I logged in to cancel the preview website informed me that I would not be charged going forward and that the preview would end on Monday. The WWE would have hardly been required to continue the preview after cancellation. This was much appreciated.