July 20, 2005
WWE 24/7 now live with Rogers
By GREG OLIVER - Producer, SLAM! Wrestling
TORONTO -- Wrestling fans in Canada who just can't get enough -- and can't get off the couch -- now have a new option. Say hello to WWE 24/7, the video-on-demand product that has finally arrived north of the border.
Launched in March 2004 in the United States, the 24/7 channel features tons of WWE/WWF/WWWF archives, along with the other properties the company owns, including ECW, the AWA, Smoky Mountain Wrestling, Jim Crockett Promotions and WCW. WWE estimates put the collection as being a 75,000 hour library of digital wrestling programming.
So far in Canada, it is just available to Rogers Digital Cable subscribers, but in an interview with SLAM! Wrestling, Tom Barreca, Executive Vice President, WWE Enterprises and head honcho of 24/7 promised that would change.
"We're talking to everybody pretty actively and we've been, but Rogers was sort of at the fore," Barreca said. "It sort of made sense that we came here first. But we're in active discussions with virtually all the players."
The subscription video-on-demand product is live as of today, with 20 hours of footage available at any one time, and four to five hours rotating in every week. Rogers is charging $9.95 a month for the ability to get WWE 24/7.
The press conference -- with media and fans present -- was a rolicking affair with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan cracking jokes over and over as master of ceremonies "Mean" Gene Okerlund tried to keep order.
Heenan took the podium, apologizing for his voice troubles, a result of battling throat cancer. "Anything you don't understand, pretend I'm American," he joked. Heenan promised that even the short-lived Bobby Heenan Show would air, reminding fans that it lasted "longer than my honeymoon."
Piper rambled through his early days in Toronto, and a combined recollection of WrestleMania I and the preceding War To Settle The Score on MTV before promising that the fans will love 24/7. "I hope you have a ball because this 24/7 is right up your alley," he told the fans in attendance.
WWE Canada president Carl DeMarco recalled his younger days heading to Maple Leaf Gardens, and called the 24/7 launch a "historic announcement for us and the WWE fans."
David Purdy, Vice President & General Manager, Television for Rogers, talked about how the power is now shifting to the customer. "For me, this is one of my greatest days at Rogers," the self-confessed wrestling fan said.
Greg Oliver is the Producer of SLAM! Wrestling and can be emailed at email@example.com