UPDATE: July 10
USTREAM has provided LiveAudioWrestling.com an official announcement regarding iPPVs on their system:
We are sad to tell you that we have decided to shut down our Pay-Per-View (PPV) feature on October 1st, 2014.
It’s always a tough decision to discontinue any feature, but we want to direct our resources to focus on other features and continue providing the best live streaming platform possible.
Here’s what you can expect:
- July 9th, 2014 we will no longer allow scheduling of PPV events past September 30th.
- September 14th, 2014 PPV event creation will be disabled.
- October 1st, 2014 we will shut down our PPV product, remove all PPV events and make all public PPV videos private videos.
- October 30th, 2014 all PayPal payments to broadcasters for ticket sales will be complete.
We encourage all users of Ustream PPV to continue using our Free Broadcasting platform, or to subscribe to our Pro Broadcasting service. Our Enterprise Pro Broadcasting plan includes the ability to hide your Ustream channel page and restrict where your content plays. Combined with your own e-commerce or payment gateway capabilities, this would allow you to build your own protected page and charge users to access it.
We are always eager to hear your feedback on this, or any other Ustream features. Please email your feedback to [email protected]
If you have a specific issue around your Ustream account and PPV, please file a support ticket athttp://www.ustream.tv/support-ticket
Allow me to cut to the chase, here’s what we know about the future of iPPVs on Ustream: nothing. As of today, we don’t know a thing officially but where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire and boy, is there a lot of smoke.
Speculation began on the July 2 edition of Bauer & Pollock, a LiveAudioWrestling.com podcast hosted by The Law’s John Pollock and former WWE creative writer, MLW frontman and current Ring of Honor staffer Court Bauer.
Court mentioned at roughly the midway point of the show that iPPVs were going to change as we know it and that Ring of Honor among others were informed that Ustream was “looking to get out of the iPPV business.” This led to a firestorm of speculation and rumors as to what exactly that meant. I personally reached out to Court to get some verification as Ustream getting out of the iPPV business obviously has a huge effect on the business of this very website. No, it’s not going to kill us but as the premiere source for live coverage of Dragon Gate and New Japan Pro Wrestling events (both used UStream exclusively), there’s some long-ranging effects from Ustream killing off this service.
Anyway, we reached out to Court for more information and it appears even the content-delivers like Court are unaware of the next steps on Ustream’s side:
@voiceswrestling No. Very little information right now other than they are getting out of their current business model of customers…
— Court Bauer (@courtbauer) July 3, 2014
@voiceswrestling buying iPPV/content through ustream.tv. I would imagine more information is forthcoming from their end soon.
— Court Bauer (@courtbauer) July 3, 2014
July 3 and 4 were significant dates for Ustream PPVs as Dragon Gate went live with their “Rainbow Gate” show, one of two scheduled Ustream PPVs (the other being July 20’s Kobe World super-show). The next day, New Japan Pro Wrestling ran a live event from the famed Korakuen Hall featuring a Jr. Heavyweight Championship main event with KUSHIDA taking on champion and rising star Kota Ibushi. This event was notable for a few reasons as it aired live on Samurai TV. In the past year or so, nearly all NJPW events emanating from Korakuen Hall as well as airing live on Samurai TV were available via Ustream. The July 4 show was not. Now to be completely fair, the show was never listed as being an iPPV and many have theorized that New Japan simply didn’t put the show as an iPPV option as to not burn out the buying audience in anticipation of the upcoming G1 Climax. For those not familiar, the G1 Climax is NJPW’s largest tournament of the year featuring multiple events spread out across a number of weeks. This year’s event spans from July 21 and August 10 and features a record 22 participants. Last year’s show was perhaps the best ever and received the most buzz due in large part to a $150 all-event package that allowed users to buy all 9 G1 Climax events and watch them live via Ustream. This offered an unprecedented view of the tournament for all and played a huge role in the growth of this site as well. Which brings us to this year. I’ll believe the theory that New Japan didn’t want to burn out the audience who are already planning on paying a healthy dime to watch all the G1 Climax events. However, we’ve received absolutely zero details regarding streams of G1. Last year, as mentioned, NJPW offered an all-event package but days before the event began offering individual G1 Climax shows at a reduced price. A trip to NJPW’s G1 Climax mini-site adds some more fuel to the speculation as the site is devoid of any Ustream logos (which are still prominent on their main and English-translated websites). Even more damning, the navigation bar features a link for “TV/Internet PPV” but as of today (July 8) that link is not functioning and currently greyed out. Hoping that Ring of Honor, or Bauer personally received some more information regarding UStream’s next move, I again reached out to Court who again was unable to give any clarification:
Bauer even responded to a few of our follower’s questions including his own speculation on their next move:
— Court Bauer (@courtbauer) July 7, 2014
— Court Bauer (@courtbauer) July 7, 2014
Again, everything on Court’s end is speculation. I have no reason to believe he’s lying about them getting out of the iPPV business as his current venture (ROH) just added their name to the list of wrestling company’s not only using Ustream but finding great success through the medium. I did my own bit of investigating including asking Ustream via Twitter to respond to the rumors as well as sending an email to their support center but I have yet to receive anything back:
I went a step further and tried to see if Ustream shut off the PPV portion of their website and much to my surprise, they hadn’t. Nothing seemed restricted and I was easily able to not only register for an account, attach my PayPal for ticket payment but also schedule a live event. To Court’s point though, Ustream may not be getting out of the streaming business altogether but instead becoming a streaming support site similar to YouTube. This shift in business will allow them to still process live streams but take them away from a lot of the back-end support they currently do.
Of course as I mentioned in the lede, we don’t know a thing. There hasn’t been an official word from Ustream as to the future of PPVs on their website, all we have is speculation and rumors. What we do know is as of July 8, there is only one more major live wrestling PPV schedule on the service — Dragon Gate’s Kobe World event on July 20. The latest offering on both New Japan’s english and Japanese Ustream sites is the June 28 Kizuna Road iPPV, now available via Video On Demand.
As of the publication of this piece, nothing has been announced on New Japan’s side regarding the G1 Climax streaming live, whether New Japan will chose to internalize the process, go elsewhere or they are simply waiting until the last minute to announce they’ll be returning to Ustream. We just don’t know.
It is worth noting that Mexican promotion AAA will livestream their largest event of the year “TripleMania” on triplemaniatv.com, which uses freecaster.tv as their back-end. The fact that AAA looked elsewhere for their livestreaming needs may not give us any insights as they famously had a litany of issues streaming last year’s TripleMania on the Ustream service and are the only wrestling company to have problems with Ustream.
For the sake of this website and our viewing pleasure, let’s hope this is just a bunch of wild rumors and speculation and there’s no truth to it, but as the days and weeks go by and we hear less from the companies involved, it’s hard not to be a bit weary. It was a fun two years, guys but our days of watching live Japanese wrestling together may be coming to an end. We’ll just have to wait and see.