The day has finally arrived where the WWE Network debuts worldwide including, arguably, it’s second biggest market, and neighbour to the north, Canada. While the WWE Network has been available through alternate means, in Canada and worldwide, since it launched in February 2014, today is the first day it has become available for Canadians to subscribe to the Network, in an official manner.
Well, sort of.
As it would turn out, the WWE Network is only “kind of” available in Canada. Although Rogers and WWE’s cooperative press release stated the WWE Network will be available on all major cable, satellite, and IPTV providers (which was later edited in WWE’s version to say “contact your local service provider”), as it would turn out, that isn’t true. It is available to all Rogers subscribers, and the channel went live at about 5am EST on Tuesday, August 8, 2014. The WWE Network is currently being broadcast in high definition on Rogers channel 512. However, for those who aren’t in Rogers service map, we have been left out of the network, so to speak.
I spent my morning calling other various cable and satellite providers in Canada, including Bell TV, COGECO Cable, Shaw Direct and independent IPTV provider vMedia. Amongst everything else that I learned, I quickly learned that I hate waiting on hold. COGECO’s hold time leading to speaking to a representative was 18 minutes. Bell TV had me on hold for nearly five, and provided me with absolutely no useful/helpful information when I did speak to their representative. Shaw Direct and vMedia both answered their phones quickly, but didn’t have a lot of information for me either. COGECO is the only company (besides Rogers themselves) that provided me with the most useful information.
From COGECO I learned that Rogers has purchased the rights to broadcast the channel, and can distribute it as they see fit. Apparently, in Canada, they’ve done the same for the rights to both baseball and hockey games as well. And while the representative seemed confident that they would eventually broadcast “at least some version of the WWE Network”, she had no idea when, or what the details (pricing, content availability, etc) would be.
So that effectively leaves more than half of Canada (including a large chunk of its most populous province, Ontario) without the ability to subscribe to the WWE Network. Not exactly what I would call a hot launch to a product already struggling to find its footing in the market, and certainly not what was promised in the joint press release issued on July 31, 2014.
However, the good news lies in being a Rogers customer, or one would be safe to assume. I suppose that hinges more on what your definition of good news is. If you subscribe to Rogers cable television service, regardless of television package you subscribe to, the “WWE Network” is available to you, starting right now. That’s right, the WWE Network… in quotations. It’s actually called the “WWE Net Pak”, a “content-rich” subscription based service featuring the “best of” the WWE Network. It is available to all Rogers subscribers (on a month-to-month commitment) for $11.99 CAD/month. The content available includes the live stream (which will be identical, for the time being, to the live stream aired in the United States including first run episodes of NXT, The Monday Night WAR, Legends House, and all 12 WWE PPV events), and a best-of Video on Demand content library, made up largely of content WWE intends to air on the live stream throughout the course of the month, as well as selected “bonus” features. Most content uploaded will have a 30-day expiration (will be removed from the VOD servers), and will actively (weekly) be updated, and refreshed. Of course, if you were to search www.rogers.com, you wouldn’t find any of that information, because none of it is included on their website. As a matter of fact, outside of the press release, there is no mention of WWE content whatsoever, for which they just signed a 10-year contract to distribute.
At $11.99 the content available is still an absolute steal. I’ve gone on record a number of times to say that I would pay twice what I’m paying right now, and still consider the WWE Network a steal. Even as a stripped down version of the Network, $11.99 is an incredible value when you consider being able to watch every Pay Per View offering, as well as the other content being made available. It’s hard, though, not to feel a little bit ripped off. Instead of getting the vast content library that our friends in the United States have access to, we’re being offered something inferior, at a higher price.
So yes, Canadian fans, the WWE Network is available to you, today, in Canada, officially for the very first time ever. That is, of course, if you live in a certain area of Canada, and subscribe to a certain cable TV provider. And even if you do, the content available to you isn’t the same as what is being made available to most of the rest of the world today. And that’s a shame.