The WWE Network launched six days ago and while it’s a wrestling fan’s dream come true it has not exactly been smooth sailing thus far. Server overloads, streaming issues, missing pay per views, censored content and log in issues have been just a few of the hiccups that subscribers have had to deal with. Problems and glitches are expected with the launch of a brand new streaming service but some of these issues seem to have been overlooked by either WWE or MLBAM.
First and foremost, if you have been able to avoid a lot of the issues thus far then the WWE Network has been sensational. The live content streams beautifully in HD and the archived pay per views are a great reminder of the past storylines, wrestlers and big time matches you may have forgotten about. However, if you’ve encountered any issues it may have lessened your initial buzz for plunking down $9.99 for a “free trial” (more on that later) week.
Personally, I experienced no problems when I first signed up. I was able to sign up a full forty minutes ahead of the 8am CST “official launch” and was able to start watching old pay per views right off the bat. When the live content started it was smooth and in full HD but as I checked Twitter I saw that other Network subscribers were plagued with getting page error messages, choppy playback and endless time on the phone with customer service. When I tried to log on through my Xbox 360 I was met with an “incorrect username/password” message despite the fact that my information was correct. I called customer service, was able to get through quickly and explained my situation and was told that “the video game console apps are experiencing technical difficulties and while we expect this problem to be fixed soon we encourage you to use your laptop, phone or tablet for the time being.” Fast forward to today and it has been almost a week and the Xbox log in error page is still there.
By all accounts the Playstation app seems to be working for the most part but Xbox seems to still be plagued with issues, something that should have been addressed before the launch. Another issue that has arisen has been having “all WWE, WCW and ECW pay per views available at launch”. Again, when I first logged in I saw that to be the case but lately I have had a bunch of pay per views missing despite the fact that parental controls are turned off. There is a gap from King of the Ring 1998 to No Mercy 2003 where there is not one pay per view in that time period, and plenty of pay per views missing before and after that time period. I’ve run into people with the same issue but so far it seems like there has been no resolution.
The “uncut and uncensored” versions of past pay per views is what had most older fans foaming at the mouth but that also seems to have been misleading. Aside from entrance music changes there have been plenty of bleeped out words in old ECW PPV’s as well as other censored material on WWE and WCW programs. Random cut outs or panning to the crowd has been pretty prevalent from what I’ve seen so far. A specific reference is the Trish Stratus/Mickie James match at Wrestlemania 22 where James foils a move by Stratus by grabbing her between the legs and after releasing it licks her hand. It remained on the original DVD release of Wretlemania 22 but when viewing it on the Network there was a very obvious and very random pan to the crowd. Another example I’ve noticed was during ECW Heat Wave when the Dudley Boyz are going on one of their tirades towards the fans that every swear word is bleeped out causing an endless supply of beeps to come through your speakers.
Now call me crazy but if a program is rated TV-MA and you stated older programming would be “uncut and unedited” that stuff that originally aired on pay per view without any censors would remain intact? My point for WWE is say what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t promise uncut and uncensored programming if you aren’t going to provide it. Especially if there are parental controls to hide that content from younger viewers there should be no problem at all with having uncensored content.
Maybe the biggest gripe I’ve seen so far on social media has been the “one week free trial” period for WWE Network. Supposedly, WWE Network has made this past week free to try out for anyone. Some complained when you had to enter your credit card information to have the free trial but that is common for most services should you like to continue receiving service once the trial period ends. The real problem seems to be that people are already seeing WWE Network charges on their billing statements despite being in the “trial period”. I’ve already been billed and know of a couple people who have as well. One guy was double charged already.
It stands to reason that if you cancel your subscription before the week is up that WWE would just offer a credit to your account but this seems like a lot of extra work then just not billing you until the trial period ends. If anything, the trial period should be extended or the first month should be free since most people can’t seem to even access the Network still. WWE hasn’t stated any such extension or waived fees would be happening but it certainly would be a nice show of support to the fans that have waited for the Network for two years only to be met with issues that should have been cleaned up well before launch.
The problems added up on the live NXT Arrival show when the feed cut out on the broadcast. The WWE sent out a statement saying that the issues will be worked on aggressively but that problems are to arise with the launch of a new steaming service. While this is hopefully a onetime mistake it can’t give too much confidence to subscribers that may be wary of the streaming quality during Wrestlemania 30, when the most traffic on the Network is expected. Streaming issues are one thing for a live NXT event but if the same issues occur during Wrestlemania 30 then expect a full on poop storm from fans on social media demanding their money back.
Hopefully these are all just week one hiccups and the WWE Network will get the log in problems, streaming issues, missing pay per views fixed as well as explain whether or not their content will be completely uncut and uncensored or if they plan to keep censoring stuff in the future. Some clarity on any and all of these issues sooner than later will please fans and hopefully none of these issues will rear their heads during Wrestlemania 30. If they do, then the outrage that a lot of subscribers experienced this week will be magnified tenfold on the WWE’s biggest night. That would be a bigger train wreck then a Summer Rae/Emma dance competition.
Follow me on Twitter @MarcDykton
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