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Pro Wrestling

LaBar: WWE quiet about network launch in UK

| Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, 10:48 p.m.

The WWE Network launches in the United Kingdom on Wednesday.

Wait, you weren't aware of that? Honestly, neither was anyone else.

I tweeted on Sunday about the launch date and lack of hype. The response I got was overwhelming with those who live in the UK. Some of the responses were frustration and confirming my observation of the lack of promotion. The other set of responses was people claiming they either didn't know or had forgot the originally announced date for the launch.

How does this happen?

I don't have a witty response or wise crack. The UK is the second biggest market for WWE behind the United States. The WWE Network is the number one priority for the company. The Network in the United States didn't explode off the bat like they hoped. To me, this all equals a need of urgency for the UK launch.

The worry from myself and others is what kind of interface the UK fans will get once launched.

The Network launched on a television platform months ago in Canada and I haven't heard one Canadian singing its praises. It's all been complaints about not being user friendly and the limited options for viewership. I've heard some complaints regarding the UK being something similar.

In the UK, there is already a different platform for the pay-per-views to air. The pay-per-views are the number one appeal with the WWE Network in getting them all inclusive for a fixed monthly rate. On a provider called Sky Sports in the UK, fans already got certain pay-per-views per year included into their purchase of the sports package. I don't know what the direct correlation will be to affecting the WWE Network, but it's certainly relevant to the conversation.

The larger point still remains that we're just days from the launch and no mention across WWE platforms. I've referred in past writing, radio or television segments that the launch in the UK was Judgment Day for WWE. I always praise the UK following. When the WWE Network hasn't performed initially to the anticipated hopes of the company, I look to the loyal UK crowd to help bail them out.

They can only bail WWE out if they know when the bailing out process begins and is for purchase.

Perhaps Monday Night RAW and all of this week begins a full blitz of announcement and promotion. I sure hope so.

If the silence and lack of information continues, it makes me wonder if something serious is wrong with the Network and getting it secured in the UK. Again, I'm not entirely sure what that would mean. However, I know it's relevant and I know the lack of information makes my speculation and assumption seem all the more dangerous.

I've had some UK fans tell me they don't care and already have found intelligent computer ways around the system to get the digital WWE Network service that's available online to those in the United States. I'm not sure how they do it and don't feel I should promote a potential “illegal” method.

I don't want to harm WWE in that manner. But how much more damage could I do considering they're just harming themselves with the lack of effort regarding this whole thing.

Justin LaBar is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7949 or jlabar@tribweb.com.

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