The WWE Network Approaches: Five Other Online Networks We Want
The WWE Network is a game changer for wrestling fans. Yes, it may be online-only, but we're still talking about getting an all-day scheduled network, one live pay-per-view per month and access to an archive that includes every PPV the WWE has ever produced on damn near any device you might want to watch it on for $10 a month. That's a ridiculous value, especially when you consider that your average PPV costs more than $40. It will be interesting to see how things play out for the company once the network launches, but for fans -- provided the WWE delivers what it's promising -- it should be completely awesome.
It could also prove, down the line, to be a game changer for fans outside the wrestling realm. If the WWE Network experiment works out, it could open up the door for other companies to launch their own online networks that combine scheduled programming and an online archive. (It could, I suppose, alternatively lead Netflix/Hulu/Amazon to start running scheduled programming, but that seems unlikely.) Now, this kind of thing might not topple the cable industry as we know it, but it would give individuals more viewing options, and I happen to think that's a good thing.
With that in mind, here are five groups that could benefit from creating their own online networks.
Honorable Mention: It'll never happen, because football is far too valuable, but an NFL or NCAA channel that let viewers access classic games would be amazing.
Buzzfeed has a good thing going with endless parades of gifs and lists that make people feel smart for remembering stuff that no one ever forgot, but imagine what they could do if they made a major push with video. Countdown shows! Movie screenings where they embed the 15 things you didn't know about the film Pop-Up Video style! Behind The Gif! The possibilities are endless, much like Buzzfeed's ability to create lists out of nothing.
4. DC Comics
DC Comics has spent the past few years letting Marvel build up a huge lead on them in the world of pop culture. Sure, people still love Batman and Superman, but The Avengers made more than a billion dollars and Marvel has a slate of movies on deck that will continue to keep the brand out front for the next few years. All DC has is a Batman/Superman movie that just got pushed to 2016. A DC network would be a great way to show people the depth of the company, from Nolan's goofy voiced Batman to the Super Friends to Smallville.
The problem with Soapnet was that it wasn't ambitious enough. You can show soap operas all day, but that's not honoring a legacy of compelling storytelling; it's doing the bare minimum and hoping people tune in. Imagine being able to watch every episode of your favorite soap from the beginning, specialty programming that highlighted great moments in soap history and scheduled programming that relived great days in soap programming. That would be worth paying for.
2. The Olympics
It's no secret that watching the Olympic Games in America is pretty lame unless you love gymnastics, figure skating or human-interest stories. Want to watch curling? Set your DVR for 3 a.m. on some station that never shows sports and hope for the best. Would it be so awful to give us an online option for watching events live and the archived broadcasts that didn't involve sitting in front of a computer all day? Make an Olympic channel for Roku devices and let us watch the biathlon whenever we damn well please and no one will ever complain about Olympic broadcasting in the States again.
This is the dream, isn't it? I mean, HBO Go exists and is great...but you still need a subscription to the cable channel to use it. Would it be so awful to cut out the middleman and let us folks who don't want to deal with a cable company have (legal) access to your amazing programming/porn? Simulcast the actual network online, and we can all watch Game of Thrones together and freak out at the latest unbelievable death. It'll be beautiful.
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