So Monday 3rd November was the supposed launch of the WWE Network in the UK and just 7 days later we will see flagship WWE show Monday Night Raw hit UK shores.....to say fireworks have been going off all week would just be too easy.
Rather than focusing on the negatives straightaway, just think how hot that Raw crowd in Liverpool SHOULD be on Monday night.....it will make for fascinating TV. But who should the fans be upset with? Who is to blame for this never ending debacle? The most important thing WWE fans attending Raw in Liverpool should understand is they have a fantastic opportunity to have their voices heard and they should stand up for their fellow British WWE fans who quite frankly have been short changed for way too long. It’s a shame Raw will not be broadcast live.....but would WWE (or Sky for that matter) edit out any possible negative crowd chants etc?
I have to be honest.....as much as it pains me to say this but I think WWE are at fault here. According to Sky Sports, WWE signed a new contract with Sky in February 2014, only 9 months ago and less than 2 months before the US launch of the WWE Network.....this deal between WWE and Sky runs until 2020! Did WWE want a deal in place with Sky just in case the WWE Network failed? Did WWE try to hoodwink Sky into a new deal in the hope it could sell all the same content again (apart from Raw and SmackDown) as part of the WWE Network subscription fee?
WWE knew the WWE Network was happening.....why did they sign such a comprehensive and long term deal with Sky?
Personally I still like to think Sky are the bad guys. They charge extortionate prices which can also differ from one customer to another (for exactly the same service) just because someone says “I want to cancel my subscription”.....is this fair?
There have been a few wrestling angles featuring wrestlers/promotions/fans versus ‘The Network’.....but maybe this could be a case of fiction influencing reality?
To be fair.....if you were Sky with a multiyear, multimillion pound deal in place with WWE, would you happily stand by while WWE cut out the middle man (Sky) and take their product direct to the consumer? Sky have made that investment in WWE and now need to recoup it with subscription fees, advertising revenue and PPV buys.....all of which will no doubt be affected by the WWE Network in the UK.
That being said, Sky Sports would still be the only place for fans to view the two main WWE shows Raw and SmackDown. These are the most important parts of any WWE fans wrestling diet (SmackDown to a lesser extent) and unless you watch these shows and keep up to date with the storylines the PPV events are pointless. So based on the assumption the vast majority of people who subscribe to the WWE Network will also want to watch Raw and SmackDown I would suggest Sky do not have too much to worry about.....most people will subscribe to both.
But it would be pretty funny for Sky Sports to broadcast WWE Raw with 10,000 plus fans chanting “Sky Sports Suck! Sky Sports Suck!” and signs reading “Rupert Murdoch Hacked Our Network” or “Murdoch Fears McMahon!”.
Is it all a work? Are WWE smart enough to take a hit and some negative publicity for a few days in order to make a really special Monday Night Raw in Liverpool next week? There is no doubt everyone is talking about the WWE Network in the UK at the moment, could all this publicity (albeit negative) boost ticket sales for the UK tour? Do they want to create a massive amount of heat, boos and negative crowd chants only to turn everything on its head with the announcement that the WWE Network is going live that evening? Too much to hope for? Probably but remember ‘Anything can happen in the World Wrestling Federation’.....only time will tell if the same can be said about World Wrestling Entertainment.
I have had the following conversation with Sky regarding the current situation:
Charles Roskilly: My next tweet is what @SkyHD need to be asked so they can't dodge the question. @WWENetwork #WWEUKNetwork #WWENetworkUK @WWE
Charles Roskilly: .@SkyHD Have you blocked the independent (non Sky) 'ONLINE' UK launch of @WWENetwork due to this contract? (see link) http://www1.skysports.com/news/14204/9149821/
SkyHelpTeam: @CharlesRoskilly Hi Charles, Unfortunately this was announced by WWE Network, we were not involved in this decision, any updates please check out@WWENetwork for more details.
CharlesRoskilly: .@SkyHelpTeam So to clarify, Sky have not blocked the independant online UK launch of @WWENetwork due to existing contracts with @WWE ....1/3
CharlesRoskilly: . @SkyHD and would have no objection to its launch? 2/3
CharlesRoskilly: . @SkyHD Finally, if Sky's deal with @WWE in the UK is 'exclusive' would that mean there is no way anyone else could broadcast WWE in UK? 3/3
SkyHelpTeam: @CharlesRoskilly Hi Chalres, The statement is all the information we have, best bet is to try @WWENetwork Thanks
CharlesRoskilly: . @SkyHelpTeam Thanks for taking the time to reply. Who can I contact at Sky for a more comprehensive explanation of this situation?
SkyHelpTeam: @CharlesRoskilly Hi Charles, This is all the information we have and every department has received this, Hoepfully the WWE will give us a clearer answer soon and the network will launch so everyone can enjoy the content. Thanks
CharlesRoskilly: . @SkyHelpTeam I appreciate this is the info you have been given but there will be people within Sky who know more. Who should I contact?
SkyHelpTeam: @CharlesRoskilly I can't help you with that Charles, I think the best bet is the speak to the WWE and ask them to confirm why their network has not launched, Thanks
Charles Roskilly: @SkyHelpTeam I do understand but I am no longer asking about the WWE Network, I am asking about the deal WWE has with Sky. Who can I ask?
SkyHelpTeam: @CharlesRoskilly That's not something we would discuss publicly, The exact details of any deal are between the 2 companies, The key points are included in the article you linked to earlier
Charles Roskilly: @SkyHelpTeam So is the deal Sky has with WWE for exclusive broadcasting rights in the UK?
Follow me on twitter @CharlesRoskilly for further updates as and when I receive them.