My First Casualty of the Streaming Wars
It’s on thing to talk about it in theory, saying that all of these streaming services are turning the alternative to cable into what they were designed to replace. It’s another thing to fall to your knees cradling the exploded head of a once dear friend as he stares at you with his one dangling eye, and breathes out his last words.
“Why did you kill me?”
“Because,” you say, with stone cold sympathy. “You weren’t worth the $9.99 a month.”
“But… NXT…” he says, his for real last words this time.
“It is the best thing you’ve got, but I’m two weeks behind and I’m not sure when I’ll be able to catch up.” You gesture at all of the other content suddenly within reach.
“Ugh…” he said, not technically a word so not invalidating my previous statement about last words.
Before Disney+’s release last week, I had three streaming service subscriptions: Netflix, Amazon Prime, and the WWE Network.
I think Netflix is in the most interesting position in the streaming wars since it’s the big dog but has the vaguest identity. Another service can out-Netflix Netflix, in theory, by providing a large enough variety of content that users never feel like changing the channel. I know it’s only been about a week, but so far Netflix we haven’t stopped watching Netflix at my house even though we have Disney+.
Amazon Prime is so In Good Companied that I had it for months without watching anything and I never considered dropping it. It would take a specific combination of not watching anything, not ordering anything from Amazon for a while, and not seeing myself ordering from Amazon again in the future to cancel Prime.
Then there’s WWE Network. As a wrestling fan, surely all I could ask for is a streaming service with millions of hours (wait, let me do the math… 1 000 000 = 42 000 days = 115 years. Hm… I’m have overestimated) of wrestling from the libraries of history’s biggest wrestling company and all of the competitors they’ve purchased.
Wrestling Is Weird
Wrestling is like the world’s biggest niche hobby, this super specific form of entertainment that’s not for everyone, but is so for so many people. Likewise, the WWE Network, one of the first streaming services, is just as weird. It has basically everything in the WWE vault except for the last month of episodes of the two currently airing WWE flagships: Raw and Smackdown. But those two shows on two different networks tell ongoing stories that hit major plot points at the special events like Wrestlemania and the Royal Rumble. These specials air on the network live, or you can order them on pay-per-view for four times the cost of one month of network subscription, like a sucker.
That means if you’re a wrestling fan and want to keep up, you need to pay $10 a month for a wrestling streaming service and need a couple of cable channels to watch another 5 hours of wrestling a week to watch the monthly special event that’s effectively original content.
Disney Wins The Wrestling Wars
If you’re not in the know, the WWE is currently in its biggest territory war since the 90s, when Ted Turner’s WCW was beating it in the ratings. AEW, bankrolled by, among other entrepreneurs, Tony Khan, the co-owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, has a weekly national TV show and some of the most exciting talent in the world on their roster.
The WWE Network is supposed to be the WWE’s Death Star in this war, but the size of it is such that a small, one-man fighter like AEW should be able to penetrate the outer defense. Meanwhile, an impartial third party’s Death Star floats nearby and unexpected a bunch of WWE Death Star gunners jump ship, even though it’s a very different Death Star.
All that to say, the WWE Network feels less like entertainment at this point and more like an obligation. I’d rather watch two hours of AWE Dynamite and still have enough time for an hour of The Mandalorian and a few random episodes of Disney Afternoon fare or cartoons I missed like Gravity Falls or Phineas and Ferb than feel like I need to watch 5 hours of WWE a week to justify watching another four hours once a month.
Speaking of Wrestling…
Ever notice what Lil Rayne’s wearing on the cover of I’m Doing Sport? Yeah that’s right, an authentic replica WWE championship.
This book, the rest of the Least I Could Do: Beginnings line, and basically the whole store is deeply discounted starting TODAY AT NOON. You can find it all in the Blind Ferret Shop!