MSOs Throw Hat in Ring for WWE SVOD

Mar 7, 2005  •  Post A Comment

World Wrestling Entertainment has found some tag-team partners to distribute its subscriber video-on-demand service, WWE 24/7.

Cox Communications, the nation’s fourth-largest cable operator, RCN and regional operators Blue Ridge communications, Sunflower Broadband, Massillon Cable TV and SELCO have agreed to carry the service.

WWE 24/7 will be priced at about $6 to $8 per month. Revenue sharing for SVOD is likely to be similar to pay-per-view, with a 50-50 to 60-40 split.

Operators like the product because it bolsters their on-demand platform, said Pete Clifford, VP of affiliate sales. Also, “They see the benefit of recurring revenue,” he said.

“This new offering will make the customer’s on-demand experience even more robust, and since it’s only available via digital cable, it helps solidify Cox as the best choice for entertainment services in our markets,” Bob Wilson, senior VP of programming for Cox Communications said in a statement.

WWE plans to put its marketing muscle behind the launch and will cross-promote it with big events, such as WrestleMania 21 in April. Customers who order the pay-per-view telecast of WrestleMania will be offered discounts on WWE 24/7, Mr. Clifford said.

He added that wresting fans are already juiced about the service. WWE last year had a soft launch of WWE 24/7 with Blue Ridge. Without much marketing support, hundreds of customers signed up and viewed much of the content available. Subscribers went online to tell other fans about the service, Mr. Clifford said, and WWE soon received requests from fans looking to buy the shows available on SVOD.

WWE 24/7 uses the company’s archive of 75,000-plus hours of not only wrestling programming from its own library but also footage bought from World Championship Wrestling, Ex-treme Championship Wrest-ling and the American Wrestling Association.

Mr. Clifford said the WWE needed to establish relationships with cable operators to sell in the SVOD service. Though the WWE’s shows are among the highest rated on cable, and its pay-per-view events are top sellers, they’d had few direct dealings with operators.

He said operators like the product, but that writing contracts for an emerging technology such as VOD proved to be more time-consuming than expected.

Cox will roll out WWE 24/7 to several of its leading systems. RCN will offer the service in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco.