Remembering WWE 24/7 On Demand: The WWE Network Before the WWE Network

Brian Damage

Over the years, the WWF…now WWE… steamrolled over all of their competition in the various territories and organizations, on their way to national and eventually, global expansion. In that time, while killing off smaller wrestling promotions, the company amassed a very impressive number of video libraries. From World Class Championship Wrestling to the American Wrestling Association to Extreme Championship Wrestling and a number of other promotions in between, WWE had themselves a treasure trove of wrestling history at their disposal.

The question was what were they going to do with all the videos they collected throughout time? In November of 2004, WWE decided to launch a subscription video on demand television service on digital cable called WWE 24/7 On Demand.

It all started with a small test run on a cable outlet in Pennsylvania. The amount of content that WWE provided proved very successful, as a number of fans began subscribing to the On Demand service. The success of the initial test run got the attention of larger cable companies like Cox and Comcast. It was all a detailed plan by WWE management to eventually turn this subscription service into an actual cable channel like A & E or the Food Network. While that plan was eventually going to be put in motion, WWE continued with the on demand service.

As the WWE continued to try and make headway into creating an actual cable channel, 24/7 On Demand continued to expand and grow with deals with other cable companies like Verizon Fios, Rogers Cable, AT&T U-Verse and Cablevision. It was estimated in 2007, that there were roughly 115,000 subscribers to their on demand service. WWE 24/7 offered a variety of programs including Hall of Fame show hosted by Mean Gene Okerlund focusing on a particular WWE Hall of Famer. U – Choose which allowed subscribers to choose between a number of major events to be focused on. Legends of Wrestling which was a round table discussion involving some legends of professional wrestling including Michael Hayes, Jim Ross, Mick Foley and Pat Patterson discussing various events and stories in their careers. Of course it also showcased thousands upon thousands of hours from numerous territorial wrestling shows throughout the years.

By 2012, advertisements started running about the launch of the WWE Network. This caused some cable outlets to drop 24/7 on demand. The issue was, the network didn’t launch in 2012 at all. The original concept of transitioning all of their content to a bonafide cable network was dropped. It became to costly and very high risk and WWE management went back to the drawing board.

Two years later in 2014…ten years after the launch of WWE 24/7 on Demand…the company unveiled a streaming service much like Netflix to obtain all of their content. With that plan now in place, all of the cable companies still carrying 24/7 issued a message to its subscribers. It said…As of January 31, 2014, WWE CLASSICS ON DEMAND will no longer be available as a monthly subscription service. This is not a choice made by Mediacom, but rather a business decision made by the WWE in order to focus on other programming content.

Of course that concept would last a few years before Vince McMahon…who was reportedly never a big fan of the streaming concept….shut down the WWE network and “rented” the rights to show all of his content of the NBC owned peacock streaming service. Many of the original subscribers to 24/7 on deman said they preferred the on demand model better than the more streamlined and polished WWE Network and definitely more than what is currently shown on peacock.

5 thoughts on “Remembering WWE 24/7 On Demand: The WWE Network Before the WWE Network

  1. I was the grand prize winner of one of their contests for March Mania in 2010 (a “simulated” tournament where they took classic matches and organized them into what’d look like a tournament) which was a cool concept that 24/7 used for a year or two. The prize wasn’t bad for a cheap one (I ended up getting a replica ring bell, a Wrestlemania 26 folding chair, a Wrestlemania 24-branded iPod, Legends of Wrestlemania for XBox 360, and every Wrestlemania up to that point on DVD.)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Respectfully, I could be wrong, but I think the Network isn’t shut down, but merely was transferred to Peacock for the US only. Maybe a non-US reader can verify this.

    Also, a nice antidote, I heard on one of Conrad’s podcasts, that Vince envisioned a network way back in the late eighties or so if my memory serves me right.

    Liked by 2 people

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