January 31, 2007
WWE Set to Merge Existing, New Video Streams into Broadband Video Network

Along with my earlier post about the controversy surrounding News Corporation's investment in ROO comes news from World Wrestling Entertainment of plans to turn the various video bits they offer into a centralized broadband video network.

According to the press release from Noah Starr with the WWE, "For the first time ever, WWE fans will be able to access all the free videos on WWE.com from one convenient location." This is all part of a campaign from the WWE over the past several months to continue innovating its Web site as a must-visit destination for its fan base, as I've written about before.

The content will include airing the entrance videos of wrestlers that they use when they come to the ring for matches, as well as highlights of each week's RAW and Smackdown, the online-only wrestling program Heat, and a variety of Internet-only segments, such as OMG Moments, Hardcore Hangover, WWE Sidesplitters, Val Venis' Sex-U, Lifestyles of the Built & Dangerous (featuring tours of the WWE wrestlers' homes), and Seein' Superstars, focusing on celebrity fans of the WWE.

The new broadband network is set to launch in the morning.

I first wrote about the innovation in video programming on WWE's Web site in September 2005, when the company's move to the USA Network led to the cancellation of its shows Velocity and Heat. However, rather than drop the programs, the WWE moved both to its Web site, curtailing rumors that they would be letting go a significant number of their wrestlers with the shows being dropped.

Back then, I wrote, "Reportedly, the WWE is wanting to do everything in its power to make its Web site a more viable property." Later, I wrote, "These shows were the 'B' shows. Now, they are the flagship shows of the Internet, giving fans a chance to see some of the smaller stars in wrestling matches that don't make it to the big show."

While Velocity was cancelled to make room for taping the weekly ECW show for Sci Fi, Heat remains a part of the WWE's video programming and will be part of the broadband network's offerings.

Then, there was the WWE Unlimited controversy I wrote about back in November, when advertisers were angered at the WWE and USA Network for WWE airing content on its Web site during commercial breaks, claiming that getting people to watch the computer screen instead of the commercials was counter-productive. Instead, I argued that airing Web content during the commercials kept people from flipping channels and also kept them watching it in real-time, rather than time-shifting it.

I've also written about WWE's Smackdown Your Vote! podcasts and perhaps the strangest transmedia project in memory, the Web animated video series Mr. McMahon's Ass.

Add the broadband video service in with WWE's innovations in the past year with its Mobile Alerts service and WWE 24/7 On Demand, its VOD subscription service, and WWE appears poised to stay at the front of providing multiplatform access to its wrestling product in a variety of emerging media forms.