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WWE Network to launch as an online channel

The long gestation period for the thematic pay wrestling network from the WWE is coming to an end after the company announced an official launch date for the channel.

The WWE Network will debut on February 24 as a subscription online channel, it was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas yesterday by WWE CEO Vince McMahon.

The channel will be available across a number of connected devices. Initially, it will launch in the US but a roll out plan includes launches in the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Nordics by early 2015.

Though initially touted as a cable channel that would launch in 2012, the network will now be a 24/7 streaming service that offers live content, 12 annual pay-per-view events and thousands of hours of library programming at a price of US$9.99 (€7.34) a month. The WWE noted that buying the pay events individually would cost a total of US$675, which will be key to enticing fans to take up the channel.

However, subscribers must commit to a minimum of six months.

Exclusive series launching on the channel will include pre- and post-shows for the weekly Raw and Smackdown programmes, the WWE NXT show and a reality series called Legends House in which past stars such as Rowdy Roddy Piper and Hacksaw Jim Duggan live in a house together.

Other shows include The Monday Night War, chronicling the battle for ratings supremacy between the WWE and the former rival organisation WCW, andWrestlemania Rewind, featuring classic matches from the company’s biggest annual PPV.

“Today is a historic day for WWE as we transform and reimagine how we deliver our premium live content and 24/7 programming directly to our fans around the world,” said McMahon. “WWE Network will provide transformative growth for our company and unprecedented value for our fans.”