When it comes to streaming services in pro wrestling, it’s fair to say that Ring of Honor has been behind the times.
At the end of 2017, ROH was one of the only promotions in the world that didn’t have a prominent OTT service (akin to WWE Network, New Japan World, DDT Universe, the various independent promotions that use Pivotshare, and so on) of any kind.
While their Ringside Membership—which has been around since the SBG purchase in 2011—did include something that resembled a streaming service, it’s wasn’t very visible, and that aspect of the Ringside Membership was never really promoted (they had around 20 or so shows, by my recollection, from pre-2009 ROH, but most of them were lesser shows). Even as smaller independent promotions across the United States, and promotions around the world, started rolling out their own streaming services in the aftermath of WWE launching the WWE Network in February 2014. ROH dragged their feet in this area, and they were rightfully criticized for it. Their video library is an incredible asset, and it was a shame to see them not use it to their advantage, especially since many people hold the golden era of ROH in such high regard (plus, how many former ROH talents are on, or have been on, the WWE roster over the years?).
After rumors of a potential streaming services surfaced towards the end of 2017, ROH finally announced within the last week that they were finally starting their own OTT service, which they are calling Honor Club. Their press release, which can be viewed here, showed off pretty much everything that we can expect once this thing gets launched, and I’m here to break all of that down for you, to the best of my ability.
— ROH Wrestling (@ringofhonor) February 2, 2018
When Does Honor Club Launch?
I should note right off the top that the only bit of news that wasn’t revealed in this press release was the actual launch date of the streaming service. The initial rumors roughly pinned a date sometime in the first few months of the year, but an actual start date has yet to be announced. I’m sure that’ll be revealed eventually, but until then, we just don’t know. If I had to take I guess, I would say that the service will launch in March/April, or around WrestleMania Weekend (I do recall some of that aforementioned speculation mentioning Spring 2018), but again, it’s the only piece of the puzzle that’s unknown, at this time.
What’s The Price?
Of course, with any pro-wrestling streaming service, the first thing that people want to know about is the cost. It’s a natural question to ask, especially since most hardcore wrestling fans are probably subscribed to more than one wrestling-related OTT service. What’s interesting about Honor Club is that it features tiered pricing with three different levels. They are as follows:
- $9.99 (Monthly)
- $99.99 (Yearly)
- $119.99 (Annual VIP Membership)
The first level is $9.99 a month. While it is slightly higher than most streaming services from independent promotions (which are usually in the $7 to $8 range), it is the same that you would pay monthly for the WWE Network.
The second level will feature a yearly payment of $99.99, which would cost less than the monthly subscription, over the course of a year. From what I was able to gather from the press release, both of those levels will basically include the same things, with the only difference being the price.
However, there is also a third level, which ROH has labeled as the Annual VIP Membership. That will be $119.99 for the entire year. While that also includes all of the same features as the first two levels, what separates the Annual VIP Membership from the other tiers is that all ROH PPVs will be available for free (if I had to guess, that’s where the extra $20 comes into play). Now, just to clarify, I presume this is referring to the iPPV version of their traditional PPVs, which currently, cost less than the traditional PPVs that you would order and watch on your TV (just under $30 for Ringside Members as opposed to $40 or $50 on traditional PPV).
If you subscribe to one of the first two tiers, then you’ll get a 50% discount on the iPPV version of major PPVs. To give you an idea of what ROH’s PPV schedule is like, they’ve usually run anywhere from four to six traditional PPVs a year since 2015. Of course, that’s not counting the shows they’ve run that were strictly on iPPV, and there were usually a few of those sprinkled throughout the year as well.
If you’re already a Ringside Member (like myself), then you’ll automatically become a member of Honor Club until your current subscription expires. At that point, I believe you will then be able to pick which level of Honor Club membership you want, should you choose to continue. If you don’t have a Ringside Membership currently, then you’ll be able to (presumably) sign up on the launch date.
Where Will Honor Club Be Available?
Initially, this streaming service will be available only on your computer or “personal device” (which I assume means your phone) through ROH’s website (rohwrestling.com), which is actually going through some upgrades this week. The press release did mention that Honor Club will eventually be available through a variety of different platforms, including channels like Roku, Apple TV, and Android TV, along with an official ROH App on Android and iOS.
The press release did make it clear that they will be doing a beta test with these other platforms for “select fans”, to make sure that everything runs and works smoothly. Based on that passage, it seems like they want to test those other platforms thoroughly before they release it to the general public, so at first, ROH’s website will be the only place to access Honor Club.
After getting through the different pricing tiers of Honor Club, and how you can access it, there is (of course) the question of what will actually be available to subscribers. Well, for the most part, it’s what you would expect. You’ll have access to the ROH TV archive as well as their “vast” on demand library, which will feature historical events, compilations, and interviews (plus “more”, as the announcement stated). Honor Club will also be borrowing existing features from the current Ringside Membership. You will get early access to pre-sales for tickets to ROH events, as well as a 15% discount on anything you buy from the ROH Shop (T-Shirts, DVD’s, and so on). It was also revealed in this announcement that they will be bringing back the ROH Forum as an exclusive for Honor Club members.
One other interesting feature that was brought up was the fact that ROH will be live streaming all “On Tour” events on the Honor Club service. What this was probably referring to is any live event that’s not a PPV, iPPV, or TV Taping. This doesn’t come as a total shock to me, since they actually tested this last October. During the Global Wars Tour, they hosted free iPPV streams of the events in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Columbus, Ohio for Ringside Members only. At the time, I had a feeling they were doing this as a test for a potential streaming service, but I didn’t think they would go this far with it. If they do end up broadcasting all of their live events (either smaller shows or ones that just aren’t iPPVs) as they happen, that’s actually pretty cool. I know that the ROH product isn’t exactly popular right now amongst hardcore fans, but it would be nice just to pop on a random ROH live event that’s being streamed if you’ve got nothing else going on.
Now there are still a few unanswered questions that I still have about the streaming service, particularly with regards to the content.
Will every single show that ROH has ever put on be available on Day 1, or will content be gradually added to the service over time (I would guess the latter, but we’ll see)?
How are they going to handle all of the copyrighted music that’s on pretty much all ROH events prior to their HDNet days (this was briefly mentioned on the most recent edition of Wrestlenomics Radio)?
Do they dub over all of those songs, or do they just cut out the entrances entirely like they’ve done on some of the DVD compilations?
There’s going to be a ton of interest in a ROH streaming service, especially for those who were big fans of the promotion during its glory years. Unless you’re absolutely going to subscribe on Day 1 (like myself), I might wait a day or two just to see what’s actually on the service at first.
If this service delivers on everything that’s promised, it’s an excellent deal. If you follow the product currently, then it’s a big solution to the problem of expensive PPVs (though how much will Honor Club potentially undercut the actual traditional PPVs?).
If you’re a lapsed fan, then it’ll be incredible to go back and revisit some of those amazing matches and events from that phenomenal run in the mid-2000s. I wouldn’t be shocked to see some issues initially (you always have to work out those initial kinks), but based on what’s been revealed already, Honor Club has the potential to quickly become one of the best pro-wrestling streaming services out there.