June 7, 2014
Just a few things to talk about in this blog, but since yesterday was the 70th anniversary of D Day, I want to take a moment to say a few words about the occasion. I am not a real history buff and I doubt I could ever fully appreciated the events of that day 70 years ago but watching the news coverage and reading articles I think I at least have a bit of perspective on the unbelievable sacrifice so many people made and the incredible battle they fought. There isn't much in life that makes me feel insufficient as a man or a human being but hearing about the men that fought that day makes me wonder if roles were reversed could I have manned up like they did back then. I'd like to think so but I fear each generation removed since then has gotten softer, and I have my doubts. What I do know is that I have nothing but respect and admiration for those who served, not just back then, but before and since. The term hero is thrown around way too often, but men who expect to die in battle but charge in any way for the greater good, are exactly that, heroes. Thank You.
- While I haven't watched all of NXT Takeover, I have watched 2 of the 3 key matches and want to talk a little about the NXT Women's Title match. If you haven't seen this show you need to go out of your way to see it. I've been a very outspoken advocate of women's wrestling for years now. I've been fortunate to work with, in one capacity or another, most of the big name women of our industry over the last 15 years. They seldom get the respect they deserve in my opinion. They are often presented as glorified eye candy, they seldom get consistent long term angles or focus, and they are often put in dead spots on shows and get their time cut as a result. Despite all of these hardships the majority of them still strive for respect and credibility. They just want to wrestle and be taken seriously on the same playing field as the men.
There are occasions when this happens, Trish and Lita main eventing RAW being one of the greatest examples. I was pretty close to the girls from the "Trish era" of the Divas division, and I knew how much they worked and how much they hated hearing "For a girls match that was really great" or "That was a great women's match" Their goal wasn't to have a good "Girls match" they wanted to have a good wrestling match period. I never added that condescending qualifier when I complimented the girls on their matches, and I'm not going to use it today either.
Nattie and Charlotte had a great wrestling match at NXT Takeover. They showed how important and entertaining women's wrestling can and should be. There are a lot of other girls in the company that can and have stepped up when given the opportunity and I hope this becomes a more common occurrence. Congratulations ladies, you did yourselves and our industry proud. I hope you continue to set your own goals, and strive to achieve above and beyond other's expectations of you. When they crack open the door of opportunity, kick it wide open in hopes of allowing many others to follow you through it. You have my respect.
- I still get asked a lot about the WWE Network. I'm constantly reminding people that the WWE Network is currently only available in the US and I live in Canada. I know there are ways around the US only limits but I'm not one to go to such lengths. I do have a lot of interest in the Network and there is a good chance I will get it once it is available and I want to take a few minutes to offer a few suggestions I think would help sell me and others on the Network. First and foremost I think WWE needs to do a better job marketing and selling this Network. Most of what I know about the WWE Network I've learned from The WON/F4W website. WWE had a decent ad this past Monday on RAW but they need more of these and to be quite honest offer more informative ads. At this point I feel they have provided me way more information on the WWE app. than they have the Network.
Instead of focusing on all of the devices I can watch the Network on I think they need to drive home the fact that if you own any of these devices you can use them to watch the Network on your Television. I like watching stuff on my television in my living room. I never watch video content on my computer, laptop or tablet. If I can't watch it on my TV I almost never watch it. I have Netflix and love it but I don't consider it an Internet service. I know that's what it is but I have Smart TVs (as well as Apple TVs) in my home and to me it's like changing a channel when I want to watch Netflix. I consider it a TV service because that's how I view it. If and when I get the WWE Network, that's the way I'll think of it and use it. I know I'll be able to watch it online on my iPad or laptop but I won't because when I watch wrestling I'm used to watching it on my TV, and I believe many others feel the same way. Watching Jerry Lawler bring up the network on his laptop while typing on his keyboard is not the way to sell this, having commercials showing families bringing up the Network on their big screens at home using a remote control is how to sell this thing.
They also need to provide more information about what is actually on there. I talk to my students frequently about the Network and since the majority of my students come from outside the US few of them have it. Almost without exception none of them knew the WWE Network had a live feed of programming, which I think is a great feature. As I mentioned I have Netflix and I can't tell you how much time I waste searching for something to watch. There is this huge sea of content and I often spend an hour flipping through Movies and TV shows trying to figure out what I want to watch. With the WWE Network there is the live feed so if you only have a few minutes and just want to watch some wrestling you can always throw on the live feed and see what you get. It's an awesome way to discover things you may not have known existed. If you stumble along an old episode on WCCW on the feed and like it you can then search the archives for more.
That said I think they could do a better job of the live feed as well. Each day the WON/F4W site posts the live feed schedule for the Network and I always check it out. I'm amazed how repetitive it is. There are usually about 4 shows that just repeat all day, and I've noticed on Legends House day that that show airs 3 or 4 times including back to back. This seems like huge over kill since after its premier airing it's available in the archives anyway. I never expected 24 hour unique programming on the Network but I figured they would do what MTV and similar channels did back in the day and create an 8 hr play list and repeat it 3 times per day. At the very least create a unique 6 hr block that debuts in whatever 6 hr block appears to be the Networks prime viewing hrs and repeat it 4 times daily. Seldom will anyone sit down for more than 6 hrs in one sitting so they won't have to run across repeat programming in one sitting.
I also think nostalgia is a big selling point to the Network so in addition to providing all of the great archived content why not also feature nostalgia programming? I've heard countless times about all of the WCW fans that stopped watching wrestling when WCW shut down (or during the last couple of years when it got really bad) and how someone needs to try to get those fans back. Why not target those fans specifically by promoting WCW content in that traditional Saturday nights at 6:05 time slot? You could air WCW Saturday night in its original iconic time slot, in order, allowing old WCW fans to relive their child hood, or better yet introduce their children and grandkids to the wrestling they enjoyed as a kid. If you air them in order, they could get hooked into the talent and angles to keep them subscribing for years as well as sending them to the archives to watch the Clash events and PPVs. that correspond to that programming. With the added context of the weekly shows those events would be more enjoyable and thus more valuable.
You could do this with other libraries as well, by selecting a weekly time slot for other programs that air in order. So far, from what I can tell, most shows air randomly jumping all over the calendar, which I think is a huge mistake. Pro-Wrestling is, as WWE likes to remind us, a weekly episodic television show, when the episodes aren't aired in order how are we supposed to get hooked into the angles and storylines? Continually adding content is a must to keep subscribers hooked but randomly adding content is not the best way to do this, in my opinion. I think there are two ways of adding content to attract and maintain subscribers. You can add the programming gradually in a regular time slot to emulate TV, like I mentioned with WCW Saturday night, or you add content like Netflix does by adding new shows and new seasons, in blocks, in order. Realistically a combination of the 2 is likely best, so you can appeal to fans of both regular TV viewing and fans of binge Netflix viewing. The WWE Network can be the best of both worlds, it's like Cable Television and Netflix combined for one low price. I've heard WWE tout that the WWE Network is like Netflix but better, but I've never heard them tell me how it's better, well here is how.
When adding new Libraries they should add them by year, in blocks over time. I know they are looking at adding the Saturday Night's Main Event libraries soon. If it were up to me, I'd add the first season (6 Events) first in one block and then 3 months later add the next season (letting fans know the 3 month schedule). It will take a few years to get them all up, but if you only add 6 at a time, fans will be more apt to watch them all in order and get hooked. Knowing the next season will be added soon should keep them subscribing. You could also insert them into the live feed in its old time slot Saturday Night, to grab casual viewers and send them to the archives. At the end of each "airing" you could even add a link to the related content in the archives to help fans find the PPV events that those specific SNME episodes where building to. Again adding context and value to those other events.
My last point is with pricing. I think WWE should add incentives for long term commitments. I think they should offer a one month price so fans can try the network without a commitment. I'd suggest a $19.99 by the month price for the Network, which is not available the month of WrestleMania. I'd then offer a 6 month subscription at $12.99 a month and the 1 year commitment at the current $9.99 a month. I would also launch a huge campaign leading into Christmas pushing the 1 year subscription to the Network as the perfect gift for the WWE fan in your family. For $119.88 you can get the WWE fan in your family the WWE Network for an entire year. This is key timing because WWE is heading into the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania season so this is when WWE interest is at its all time high. With this campaign you get fans renewing each year when your product is always heating up and if people get into the habit of making this their gift idea for someone each year it's so simple for them to just keep renewing it with a gift card each year.
There has to be a way that WWE can be aware if the subscription is a Xmas gift (offering a WWE gift card with subscription) where WWE can simple send the person being charged for the subscription a renewal gift card each year making this not only a great gift but just an extremely trouble free gift to give. I used to get OWL magazine as a kid each year for Xmas from my Grandparents and I never wanted it. I think they got it one year, I of course said thank you I loved it, and each year they got a renewal form from the company and since Grandparents are always looking for gift ideas for their Grandkids simply renewed it each year. If I'd have gotten the WWE Network instead of Owl Magazine I'd have been the happiest kid around and made sure my Grandparents knew it was the perfect gift each year.
Well this ended up being a lot more about the WWE Network that I was originally planning but I think I covered a lot of good stuff. I'd be curious to hear your feedback on my Network ideas. If WWE wants to use any of these ideas, please feel free you are welcome to them. If however you feel the need to show your gratitude, I'd be more than happy to accept a complimentary subscription to the Network once it's available in Calgary... Alberta, Canada.
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