WWE Network, the WWE’s subscription streaming service, launched a free version of its service that will include access to new shows and some library content.
New shows include “Raw Talk,” which will stream Monday nights each week immediately following “Raw.” The free tier will also include “Monday Night War,” “Ride Along,” “Table for 3,” “Photo Shoot” and “Story Time” along with recent episodes of “Monday Night Raw,” “Friday Night SmackDown” and “NXT.” It will also include select library WWE pay-per-views and NXT TakeOver events and weekly WWE highlights.
“The launch of WWE Network’s Free Version is a key component of our company’s digitization strategy and a new way for all fans to be able to experience premium WWE content,” said Jayar Donlan, WWE Executive Vice President of Advanced Media, in a statement. “As we continue to reimagine WWE Network’s offering, the Free Version will serve as an effective way to reach a broader group of consumers and allow them to experience the history and spectacle of WWE.”
The free version of WWE Network doesn’t require a credit card at sign-up and, according to the Hollywood Reporter, it won’t be ad-supported at launch.
The launch in June is somewhat surprising since interim CFO Frank Riddick said, during WWE’s most recent earnings call, that the company was eying a fourth quarter launch for the free tier.
During the first quarter, WWE Network's average paid subscribers decreased 8% from the prior year quarter to approximately 1.46 million. However, the company said it was still exploring new strategies for its direct-to-consumer service and sounded confident in the future of WWE Network.
“We continue to believe in the viability of alternative strategic options for WWE Network. Our confidence is based on our discussions with multiple potential partners and consideration of broader media industry factors such as the evolution of new streaming services and increasing value of live sports content,” said Riddick, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.