So recently there has been a kerfuffle of sorts, because WWE announced they were bringing the WWE Network to Canada. Now, this should have been a slam dunk, no-miss proposition. Canada has always been a hotbed of wrestling fandom: obvious easy market, obvious profit. Right?
Except that the WWE Network has partnered with Rogers Canada, one of the biggest cable providers in the country, and literally removed every single thing that was good about the Network from the Canadian version. To wit:
|ASPECT||ORIGINAL AMERICAN VERSION||INFERIOR CANADIAN VERSION|
|Cost||$9.99 per month||$11.99 per month|
|Method of delivery||Over-the-top via internet to computers/XBoxen/Rokus/etc.||Premium on-demand cable channel|
|Availability||Anybody who can pay for it||Rogers subscribers only (which means MORE THAN HALF THE COUNTRY can't get it and those who can have to sign up with a specific cable company to do so)|
|How one can watch||Computer/TV/Tablet/phone||TV only|
|Back catalog||Every pay-per-view ever and thousands of hours of TV footage||Literally only eight pay-per-views at launch|
I’m not kidding about the lack of back content either. Take a look at this:
Here is how the archive is labelled – looks like a total rush job, I expected stripped down version but this is low pic.twitter.com/REXz71VO4P
— Live Audio Wrestling (@LAWradio) August 12, 2014
(The full list of launch content, incidentally: SummerSlam 1992, 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2005, Great American Bash 1989, Bash at the Beach 1994, 1996 and 1998, ECW Heatwave 1998 and 1999, and ECW One Night Stand 2005.)
So it’s a horrible botch job and Canadians who want the proper WWE Network will just have to not use the American service via a VPN because that would be wrong, but really, we can’t reasonably blame WWE for this, because Rogers owns the TV rights to WWE in Canada and because of that you had to know that, from the get-go, they would come in and ruin the Network for Canadians because it’s Rogers.
See, thanks to the way the Canadian telecommunications industry is regulated and operated, Rogers literally does not have to give a damn. Rogers is one of three companies – the others being Bell and Shaw – that dominates 90% of internet provision in Canada. It is also one of three companies (the others being Bell and Shaw) that dominates television in Canada. Out of the 60 or so channels that make up most “basic premium cable” packages in Canada, the Big Three own thirty-two of them. (Another twelve are American-owned, eight are owned by a corporation called Corus Entertainment, and eight others are either publicly operated or independently owned.) While we’re at it, Bell and Rogers control about 65% of the mobile phone market in Canada (a third company, Telus, controls about another 25%).
These companies don’t have to worry about somebody out-competing them because they have completely regulatory-captured the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission). If you want a mobile phone? There’s no such thing as Bell, Rogers or Telus offering a better rate than the other; down the line, their rates and services are virtually identical. They all have budget carrier brands as well: those match up just the same too. TV services? Barely any measurable difference between the 2-3 options you have anywhere in Canada (usually one of Rogers and Shaw, plus Bell). Internet? Same shit, different day. Most of the “independent” ISPs in Canada are actually re-sellers who buy bandwidth from Bell or Rogers at cost (the big guys are legally forced to offer pipe at cost for resale otherwise they wouldn’t do it) so even if you have an indie ISP like Teksavvy, Bell and Rogers are still getting your money.
The net result of all of this is that internet/TV/wireless in Canada is a bad joke, has been for basically ever, and barring a major sea change in regulatory attitudes it’s never going to change – heck, right now Bell and Rogers are running ads on their own TV and radio stations under the guise of a “consumer advocacy group” that additional competition in their marketplace would “kill Canadian jobs” so they’re loading the deck as we speak. It’s ridiculous and awful and everybody knows it’s ridiculous and awful, but no politician is ever going to campaign on it because did I mention that Bell and Rogers own all those TV channels? Including multiple news channels? Amazing how that works.
So the WWE Network in Canada was always going to suck. Because we can’t have nice things here, not in the telecom sense.