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WWE Network is going free.
A no-cost version of the streamer launches today with more than 15,000 titles including episodes of Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown.
Jayar Donlan, executive vp advanced media at WWE, tells THR that the company sees the introducing of the free product, dubbed the Free Version of WWE Network, as “a balance of providing a great experience for our fans by essentially offering unlimited access to a larger array of programming while still maintaining the value of our more premium content at $9.99 per month.”
The free version will not be ad-supported at launch. It will offer recent episodes of WWE flagships Raw, SmackDown and NXT. In addition, it will carry new shows like Raw Talk, which will stream every Monday night; original series like Monday Night War, Ride Along and Table for 3; some historical pay-per-view programming; and weekly highlights like Top 10 and The Best of WWE.
WWE Network launched in 2014 to offer live and on-demand professional wrestling programming. Earlier this year, ahead of WrestleMania, WWE gave away much of the streamer’s content for free. “It proved to be a good acquisition strategy for us,” says Donlan. That combined with the streaming of WrestleMania contributed to WWE Network’s highest weekend of signups. It hit 2.1 million subscribers in early April. Donlan adds of the plan to make the programming free permanently, “Evolving is smart and putting new offers in the marketplace stimulates consumer activity. It gives us a good fan experience.
The introduction to the free tier comes as WWE — which has continued to air new programming during the shutdown — explores strategic options for the streamer. Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon announced during the company’s quarterly earnings call in late April that WWE had been “very close” with a number of potential partners on a deal before the coronavirus pandemic and that negotiations had been extended as a result.
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