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WWE gets its own streaming network

It’s hard to imagine wrestling as the talk of CES 2014, the huge consumer electronics show currently taking place in Las Vegas, but that’s exactly what happened yesterday when World Wrestling Entertainment took the stage to announce the launch of the WWE Network.

Described as the first-ever 24/7 streaming network, the subscription-based service will feature all 12 of the current live WWE pay-per-view events, as well as original programming, reality shows, documentaries, classic matches, and more than 1,500 hours of video on demand.

Present and former WWE stars were on hand at to help with the announcement, including John Cena, Big Show, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and WWE Chairman Vince McMahon.

A subscription to WWE Network will cost $9.99 a month, with a minimum commitment of 6 months. Considering most WWE pay-per-view events cost $45 and up, the annual subscription cost of $120 represents big savings for hardcore fans even before factoring in the other available content.

Then there is the additional access. The WWE Network will be available in HD on just about any device, including desktops and laptops, iOS and Android mobile devices, Kindle Fire, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and 4, and Roku boxes. Other devices, including the Xbox One and various Smart TVs will follow later this year.

Although WWE fans have to be happy with this move, it’s easy to see how it also works for WWE. As WWE’s own executives have previously pointed out, asking almost $50 for just three hours of content is not a viable long term proposition, particularly when there is so much other content out there vying for their fans’ attention. By locking those fans into a longer term commitment, WWE will be able to smooth out that spotty pay-per-view revenue, while keeping a significantly higher percentage of the proceeds in-house.

Fans will be able to subscribe starting at 9:00 am ET on Monday, February 24, and the WWE Network will officially launch with the live Monday Night Raw Post-Show at 11:06 pm ET that same day. The WWE Network will only be available in the US at launch but is expected to roll out to the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and several other countries by end 2014/early 2015.

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