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WWE Network interesting, but don't expect other sports to follow
February 23, 2014 - Chris Pugh
I don't care about professional wrestling, but I'm fascinated about Monday's debut of the WWE Network.
On its surface, it looks like a move that could dramatically impact cable and how we watch television.
But the reality is TV contracts may be too lucrative for sports to totally cut the cord with traditional broadcast and cable networks.
WWE Network is offering its service with all-new programming and every pay-per-view event directly to customers online for $9.99 a month.
In addition to being being available on computers, WWE Network can also be accessed through PlayStation, Xbox and Roku.
WWE is still planning to air its popular cable shows like "Raw" and "Smackdown" on traditional cable networks, but will air repeats on the new venture. Network officials insist it is willing to go at it alone directly with customers online.
"This gives us control of our destiny and a better user interface," WWE owner Vince McMahon told reporters. "We think it's the future."
If the WWE is successful with the venture, it may change the way we watch television, especially sports.
Cable companies have been forced to pass along rising costs for watching sports directly to customers due to skyrocketing television rights fees to the games.
Other professional leagues have their own channels, but are hosted on premium cable packages.
Many games from the other leagues are now available to streaming services for customers who buy seasons. WWE is offering a less-expensive option.
Customers are asked to commit to a six-month package, which retails for less than $60, while full seasons from other leagues can cost more than $200.
What WWE is doing is interesting, but it would have been more interesting to see what would have happened if it would host all programming on the new channel.
For the WWE and other professional sports, thereás lots of money to be made from networks willing to spend lots for broadcast rights.
For pro football alone, NBC pays $1.05 billion, CBS pays $1.08 billion and Fox pays $1.15 billion annually, according to industry estimates, while ESPN pays $1.9 billion per year for Monday night football.
If the NFL would follow the WWE's lead, we would pay the difference.
I really respect what the WWE is doing, but don't expect to see other sports follow suit anytime soon.
What do you think? Are there any WWE fans out there who will pay for the WWE Network? What would you pay per month if another sport like the NFL would follow suit?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll publish your responses in a future column.
You can also connect with him personally at twitter.com/chrispugh3
Hulk Hogan recently made his return to the WWE.