As much as many mixed martial arts (MMA) fans hate to acknowledge it, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) share many similarities and borrow from one another's product regularly.
Whether that comes in the form of a fighter entering the squared circle, a performer trying his hand inside the Octagon, WWE staging MMA-style fights and calling them "Lion's Den" matches or UFC fighters cutting "promos" following a victory, the parallels are endless.
When Vince McMahon announced WWE Network at CES earlier this week, the 24/7 streaming service that will launch live in the U.S. on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, UFC President Dana White and those behind the recently-launched "Fight Pass" campaign surely took notice. (Details at Cagesideseats)
While both services are attempts at evolving with the way fans consume each product, WWE has surely set the bar when it comes to what will be expected in the future.
In wrasslin' terms, WWE wins via squash match.
"Fight Pass" and WWE Network both cost $9.99 per month, although WWE will require a six-month contract, but what you receive for your hard-earned 10 bucks differs greatly.
The phrase pay-per-view (PPV) no longer exists if you purchase a subscription with WWE, as it puts its network out there by offering the "Grandaddy of Them All," WrestleMania 30, as its first show along with the entire slate of 12 PPV events it produces annually.
That would be like UFC deciding to make UFC 168 its first "Fight Pass" event and airing all 13 of its upcoming PPVs for free. Instead, ZUFFA offered a UFC Fight Night 34 card headlined by Tarec Saffiedine vs. Hyun Gyu Lim from Singapore that aired on a Saturday morning, and will continue to charge full price ($54-$59.95 a pop) for all marquee events in 2014.
If you're keeping track, that's $900 to watch all UFC programming, compared to WWE's asking price of $120.
Another key difference in the two products is the content available at launch. UFC rolled out its service with meager selections from its rich MMA database, while WWE Network will offer all WWE, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) PPV shows.
WWE is giving you its best content, for an awesome price.
With a much bigger library and the ability to offer a vastly unique experience via various television shows and an entire DVD library of documentaries, this will help reach the one million subscribers McMahon claims are needed to break even, and make it far more valuable than what UFC has to bring to the table, thus far.
What about those naysayers who cite WWE Network not actually launching yet?
WWE has linked up with MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) to help build a powerful solution for delivering 24/7 WWE content to fans. The partnership should alleviate any fears fans may have about the streaming capabilities of the company.
In addition, WWE Network will be available through the WWE App on Amazon's Kindle Fire devices; Android devices; iOS devices; Roku; Sony PlayStation 3 and 4; and Xbox 360 and ONE. To compare, "Fight Pass" is currently only streaming via computer, a big obstacle for many who don't use their computer as a television device.
Did I mention the Fight Pass video player leaves a lot to be desired? As my Mania comrade Matt Roth put it last week, thus far it's a "flawed delivery system."
As a fan of both products, I'm ecstatic to have them at my disposal.
But to someone on the fence about investing their money in one or the other, there's no comparison. WWE's version blows UFC's out of the water here. Upping the expectations for future 24/7 streaming networks and living up to the phrase "to be the man, you've gotta beat the man."
Your move, Mr. White.