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WWE Pins SVOD Carriage

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. has notched the first cable affiliation deals for its subscription video-on-demand service, signing long-term pacts with Cox Communications Inc. and several small operators.

The SVOD service, WWE 24/7 — which offers library footage from the grapping organization — launches this month on Cox, RCN Corp., Blue Ridge Communications, Sunflower Broadband, Massillon Cable TV and SELECO (Shrewsbury Electric and Cable Communications), said WWE vice president of affiliate sales Peter Clifford.

WWE didn’t say how many potential subscribers the affiliate deals would bring. Terms weren’t disclosed.

The cable companies plan to charge customers $6 to $8 for about 20 hours a month of programming, with about 20% to 25% of the content refreshed every week, said WWE Enterprises senior VP Tom Barreca.

Cox expects to charge $6.95 for WWE 24/7, as well as for two other SVOD services it plans to launch this month, Anime Network and Here! TV.

WWE also will offer operators a package of free video-on-demand programming, including trailers of upcoming events and vignettes developed from existing on-demand content.

Clifford said the WWE is talking to all the top MSOs and hopes to reach agreements prior to its April 3 Wrestlemania XXI pay-per-view event.

“It’s always good to get a jump out of the gate, and I think in the cable industry it’s great to have someone jump in, because it helps move things forward for the other operators,” he said.

Barreca said WWE also expects to talk to various telephone companies about distribution on their respective video platforms.

“It’s been pretty much a cable play right now, but as a content provider,” the programmer can’t be “an advocate of one particular distribution pipe over another,” he said.

WWE recently said it will use TVN Entertainment Corp. to distribute the SVOD service.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.