WWE Debuts Video-On-Demand Service

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NEW YORK -- World Wrestling Entertainment yesterday introduced WWE 24/7, a global subscription video-on-demand service with pay-per-view, cable and syndicated broadcast content, home videos, new productions and proprietary broadband content.

The Stamford, CT, company will use its 75,000-hour programming library to funnel content through the cable, satellite and eventually broadband channels. A newly created business development unit, WWE Enterprises, will work with cable operators, affiliates and satellite providers for carriage.

"As any good entertainment company, you must reinvent yourself over and over and over again," said Vince McMahon, chairman of WWE, adding that the new enterprise was "an opportunity to expose [WWE archived content] to a brand-new generation of fans."

WWE 24/7 goes live next month. It will release about 20 hours of evergreen content each month, or four to five new hours per month. Plans call for customized broadband content for sites belonging to operators and distributors.

Content aired will include programs from libraries that WWE has bought. Such content is from the World Championship Wrestling, American Wrestling Association, ECW, Jim Crockett Promotions and Smokey Mountain Wrestling.

To encourage trial, WWE will initially offer content on a free-on-demand basis. Its target is kids ages 12 to 17 years of age as well as the young adults who enjoy wrestling events like Wrestlemania, RAW and WWE Smackdown.

WWE's shows currently air on Viacom's UPN and Spike TV.

The company would not disclose initial subscriber projections or the fee to subscribers for WWE 24/7.

Shane McMahon, executive vice president of WWE, said the Internet also figures in the distribution plan. But it will figure in the second phase of this new franchise.

"The Internet is just another extension of our brand," McMahon said. "It's another distribution pipe for us, no different from cable and satellite. Wherever there's a pipe, we have content to support it."

The site at www.wwe.com currently attracts 8 million unique visitors each month, split equally between U.S. and international traffic. It also gets between 250 million and 300 million pages views each month.

WWE.com's database comprises more than 1 million opted-in addresses for e-mails that drop between two to three times each week depending on the message. The database will get e-mails promoting WWE 24/7.

WWE supports its site partly through ads from advertisers Sony, M&M/Mars and the U.S. Army.

Plans soon call for fantasy gaming on the site. Consumers will have to pay.


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