The WWE Network is coming sometime this year. It promises to be a 24/7 network channel full of content for a subscription fee. While it will be the first streaming channel from WWE, it’s not the first for-pay buffet of content. In fact, two areas of content exist today that you can pay for: WWE Classics on Demand (formerly WWE 24/7, probably based on the fact that it wasn’t), a pay-for cable on-demand channel on your TV, and WWE Greatest Matches, a pay-for area of their website that offers up a different set of curated content from the on-demand TV channel (much more, for less).
It makes sense for WWE to have an avenue for enthusiast fans to gobble up content, and it makes sense for WWE to charge for it. I’ve never understood, though, why Classics on Demand and Greatest Matches are two different things, with two different price points, ways of watching, and sets of available content. With the addition of the WWE Network this year, the line becomes even more muddled. Will Classics on Demand go away? Will both? We know barely anything about the channel itself, and absolutely nothing about how it will affect the rest of the line up. Rumors have suggested that the network will even change the face of WWE’s PPV business, allowing subscribers to watch major PPVs without paying for them (what would they be called, then? PVs?).
It all ends up looking like a mess, from the current standpoint. WWE has already made one change: WWE Greatest Matches no longer suggests an iPad/iPhone version coming. This suggests they take very seriously the line between the internet and television (since you can mirror video content from an iOS device to an Apple TV). That’s an assumption. It’s just as likely they thought they could simply export their flash-based video system to mobile devices, but since Adobe recently killed mobile flash, that put a kibosh on their plans. WWE may simply kill Greatest Matches, but if that’s their plan, why release it at all? It only came out in August, and certainly their Network plans were coming together by then.
More likely, Classics on Demand will go away, since there will be no reason to have two cable pay channels (the WWE Network channel’s mere existence shows that WWE prefers streaming to on-demand, since Classics has existed for years). But what if the Network was a thing you could subscribe to and get it all? What if a subscription to the Network was a mainline to all the content WWE produced, and you could access it on whatever device you had? You could get the video stream on TV, the Classics on Demand stuff, the Greatest Matches stuff, and more? That would be something. But I guess it would also be overkill.