The following is a post I wrote up for WrestlineMayhemShow.com based on our online PPV experience. Big thanks to AJ Kuftic for the thought to do it this way so we can put our money where our mouth is on this matter. Thought it fit with the cord cutting discussions I often have here.
I am a cord cutter. And as such my television hobby, professional wrestling, has been hard to keep legit.
For this case, we are giving a fair shake to obtaining a legitimate pay per view from those juggernauts at WWE.com. Going into this, I know I was always skeptical on what quality they would deliver based on what quality video the site has had over the years otherwise. Would they respect a quality boost knowing I paid exactly what I would have if I did have a cable subscription hooked up? Thankfully, our good friend AJ was willing to give it a shot in his wallet, and we all got to see the results.
What did we use? I hooked up a late 2009 MacBook Pro on my 25/25 Verizon FIOS connection, and a 720p HDMI hookup to 42″ Vizio LCD.
So we had the login and the pre-purchase. Easy enough. But did it hold up? Do we feel slighted for paying 54.95 for a sub par experience?
From what I can tell, we paid the same amount as you would on a standard definition viewing of the show. If you look at it like what, and have VPN Er watched one of those on an HD TV, you know how blocky and ugly it can get. I know watching RAW or a PPV on an HD channel n Comcast or FIOS I have seen shameful macroblocking on fireworks or strobe light entrances. I never expect a picture perfect edition.
The show was watchable. Sometimes, during entrances, lots of shot changes, or the cage match, the video just fell apart. It was watchable, but not quite better than the three clicks it would have take a to watch the same show for free somewhere else. Some things like CM Punk’s tattoos just meshed together. Some really unfortunate stuff, but only took away the experience slightly.
As for reliability, I was really impressed. I don’t think we had a video drop all night. There were a few blackouts and glitches, but it seemed to be camera or broadcast issues there at the show that likely went out to every paying viewer out there. the important part is that we could mostly forget a out the stream. If I had the feeling of needing to babysit the stream, hope it didn’t go down, biting my nails all night, it’s different than I would expect in reliability in a cable connection.
The biggest issue is the cost for what you do get. At least as a comparison point, our talk amongst ourselves afterwards led to the idea that WWE should give some sort of discount to the online purchase like this. To the average joe, not on the “cutting edge” cord cutters like me, what is the incentive to go with this option? Why not do the cable PPV I always do? Or worse yet, what’s to keep me forgoing to use the easy to find free streams?
In the quality side, it has some way to go. This is the first time I looked for the online PPV option that I didn’t have to dig for. But we also had the YouTube streamed WrestleMania pre-show running in full 720p through the same setup. That hurt to switch off to the paid stream. I’ve been enjoying HD streams on Hulu Plus and YouTube via my Xbox 360 for years that has rivaled my neighbor’s DirecTV. The tech is out there. YouTube is shoring up content, and WWE is picking up productions with these streaming pre shows, press conferences and streaming content. You have to think that they are already considering YouTube’s infrastructure for serving Pay Per Views. When this happens and looks Asa good as the live streaming Rock/Cena special did, or NXT does every week for me, then my money will be even easier greased to leave my wallet.
So while the online experience leaves a bit to be desired, as long as I consider the quality compared to that Standard Definition price, I can swallow this to be a legitimate watcher of WWE PPVs for now, so long as I can continue to get people interested in splitting it with me. Otherwise, the cost is now the sole prohibitive element, like anyone else out there. But that’s another issue altogether.
So what do you think? What would you like to see that would make you shell out for Pay Per Views more consistently online?