WWE Pins Down SVOD

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Coming off of its most successful pay-per-view event in years, World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. last Wednesday announced it would offer a new subscription video-on-demand service.

WWE chairman Vince McMahon also said during a press luncheon here that the company is also considering the launch of a 24-hour digital service in the near future.

The SVOD service, dubbed WWE 24/7, is scheduled to bow in April and will tap more than 75,000 hours of archived WWE library programming, as well as grappling fare from the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling outfits, McMahon said.

WWE 24/7 is expected to offer 20 hours of content a month, with four to five hours refreshed on a weekly basis, said Tom Barreca, senior vice president of the newly created WWE Enterprises division.

The service would carry a suggested retail price between $6 and $10 per month, said Barreca.

He declined to provide specific revenue splits.

The network has yet to reach any distribution deals with operators; Barreca would not provide any estimated subscriber figures.

“We’ll also offer free VOD programming to help them drive our customer base into the new platform, as well as to promote our own service,” he said.

Much as the former World Wrestling Federation did during the early days of pay-per-view, McMahon said WWE wants to use its highly recognizable brand to help operators push new technologies.

“One of the things that we’ve always done is reinvent ourselves and stay with the times, as well as stay abreast of what’s available in the medium to reach our audiences,” McMahon said. “We hope to do for SVOD what we’ve done for PPV.”

Added Barreca: “We probably have the most passionate and loyal fans for our product on television — much more than the SVOD services currently being offered by the pay services.”

To further exploit the digital-cable arena, McMahon said the WWE could launch a digital service within the next two years, although it’s unclear whether it would feature classic programming or new events or series.

The SVOD venture will mark the first time the WWE has offered access to its vast library of vintage PPV events, specials and home videos, some of which have only aired once.

The SVOD gambit builds on momentum pinned from March 14’s Wrestlemania XX.

McMahon said the event generated between 700,000 and 900,000 buys and beat all company revenue estimations.

WWE PPV events had taken a buy-rate and revenue hit over the past couple of years, after setting the standard for PPV event performances during the late 1990s.

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