The launch of the WWE Network was a definite game changer in the way that wrestling fans consume and pay for content. “The Network”, the service’s nickname since its inception, has been a mixed bag in terms of accessibility and the development of entertaining original shows, but the service shines as a resource for hardcore wrestling fans. A good portion of the WWE’s vast video library and the majority of its current programing is easily accessible in one place at an affordable price.
A large corporation like the WWE can theoretically afford to gamble on a paid streaming in light of traditional revenue sources such as DVD or pay-per-view sales. Independent wrestling promotions cannot gamble financially like Titan Towers can. For many indie promotions a paid streaming service would eat into the profits that a brisk DVD, i-PPV and MP4 business brings in. Despite that, many indies have rolled out a subscription based streaming services in 2015
Wrestling is not a cheap hobby and thankfully a legion of reviewers serve as consumer advocates for the fanbase. While that may be true for shows, there hasn’t been a long term project aimed at reviewing streaming services, hence where I come in.
Over the next few months I am going to evaluate various streaming services offered by indie promotions in order to determine where a fan’s money will be best spent. I will evaluate each service in five different areas:
- Price- how much does the service cost in comparison with other streaming services.
- Content- a breakdown of what is available to watch on the service.
- Platforms- a breakdown of what platforms the service is compatible with.
- Functionality- a breakdown of how easy it is to use the site.
- Overall Investment Quality- a breakdown on if the service is worth keeping for a long period.
The first installment of the series will look at Rhode Island based promotion Beyond Wrestling’s recently launched streaming service cleverly called Beyond Demand (being marketed as “beyondemand”), available at http://www.youtube.com/beyondemand
Beyondemand costs a familiar $9.99. That’s on par with what the WWE Network costs and is not much more expensive than streaming services such as Netflix, so beyondemand will not break a fan’s budget. Additional good news is that the company offers a free 14 day trial after a user first signs up so there is no immediate charge to dissuade a curious customer from trying the service without feeling forced to make a commitment.
Beyondemand hosts every single show that the promotion has run from Fete Music starting with 2013’s “Americanrana” and ending with last month’s “Gratitude Era”. Many of these shows are critically acclaimed and feature well known indie talents such as Drew Gulak, Chris Dickinson, AR Fox and some of the best unknown talents from the eastern United States. The Young Bucks, Kevin Steen and Biff Busick were regulars in the past and had some outstanding matches.
Eleven show tapings from the promotions earlier days are also available and from a time when Beyond Wrestling was known more as a platform for unsigned wrestlers to have samples of their work posted on the internet. The shows themselves are nothing special but they are a nice added bonus for anyone curious about what Beyond Wrestling was like in its nascent stage.
Three “secret shows” from this summer are also available exclusively for beyondemand subscribers. These events are intimate shows that take place before smaller crowds and were previously on sale through the company website. Four previous “secret shows” from 2015 are not currently streaming but the ones that are available are the most recent.
Also available exclusively for subscribers is a 90-minute retrospective with Biff Busick on his independent wrestling career, and a full live set by the band Native Steve, which features Beyond regular Chris Dickinson on drums. A JT Dunn project in the vein of the Busick retrospective is also in the works, and the promotion expects to release it on the service within a month.
Beyond Wrestling has and continues to use its YouTube channel to host the company’s video content so it is no surprise that their steaming service is hosted on the site as well. That is nothing but good news for potential customers. YouTube is available as an app on all smartphones, tablets, game consoles and smart televisions, and due to that it’s possible to view the service from any location using almost any electronic device.
If you have navigated a YouTube channel before then you will have no issue using the beyondemand page. There is an easily accessible search bar on the front page and the content is divided into playlists so you will not have to go through page after page of videos just to find the one you want to view. The only content that does not have its own section is the Biff Busick interview and the concert. Those have to be hunted down, which is sightly annoying, but they aren’t impossible to find.
Overall Investment Quality
Depending on where you order a Beyond Wrestling DVD or VOD, an individual show will cost you in between $10.00 to 15.00. For the price of one DVD or VOD per month you can watch every Beyond live event since the company started running regular shows in 2013 plus bonus content. That’s a very good buy in my opinion.
The only hesitancy I have in recommending the service is that I’m not sure how frequently it will be updated. Beyond Wrestling quickly updated the page with all recent shows soon after the service launched, so we have no precedent to judge on. A good sign that the events will be uploaded quickly is that the promotion’s last show was uploaded in a raw footage format a few days after it was filmed. According to the upcoming release schedule provided to us by the promotion, it looks like the turnaround time on raw footage generally falls between 3-5 days. Multiple angle 1080p HD edits will replace raw footage a short time after the DVD’s are made available on Smart Mark Video.
(Editors Note: Beyond Wrestling noted to us that an additional 19 shows, including pre-Fete events and several more Secret Shows, will be strategically released to fill the gaps between the release of new events.)
Beyondemand offers a large amount of content at a fair price. The service is easy to use and works on a variety of platforms. If the company regularly uploads new content in a timely fashion, then it has the chance to be the premiere on demand channel for the entire American independent scene.