WWE Network’s free tier is officially here.
But what does this mean? It’s simply 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 of Advanced Media at WWE, 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 Monday Night Raw, Friday Night 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 but only reached 2.1 million subscribers in early April 2020.
The introduction to the free tier comes as WWE — which has continued to air new programming during the shut down — explores strategic options for the streamer. Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon announced during the company’s quarterly earnings call, 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.
The wrestling organization has continued to produce events in 2020 while major sports around the country have been suspended the past few months, with local authorities deeming WWE an “essential business,” on the same day the American First Action political action committee, chaired by WWE owner Vince McMahon’s wife, Linda, announced a total of $18.5 million in television advertisement spending in the Orlando ($11.3 million) and Tampa ($7.1 million) media markets to be used for pro-Trump broadcast advertising from Labor Day through Election Day.