WWE Network is an over-the-top streaming service and digital television network owned by American integrated media company WWE. In Japan it operates as a television network, and in the rest of the world as a streaming service using the infrastructure of Endeavor Streaming Services.
On January 8, 2014, WWE announced the network would launch on February 24 in the United States. The company stated on July 31 that the service was expected to go live in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Mexico, Spain, Turkey, the Nordics, the Middle East and North Africa, worldwide among other countries starting on August 17. It was unexpectedly made available in the UK and Ireland a week earlier than planned, on January 13, 2015, after a delay from the previous November. The WWE Network consists of both a 24-hour linear streaming channel and on-demand programming from WWE's library.
The origins of the WWE Network can trace back to 2000 when USA Network filed the lawsuit against the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now known as the WWE) due to breach of contract which saw most of its programming moved to Viacom-owned TNN and MTV. The Delaware Chancery Court ruled in favor of the WWF in June 2000. Then CEO Linda McMahon revealed that WWF wanted its own cable network and testified that before WWF signed a rights deal with Viacom, the company had floated the idea of acquiring USA's Sci-Fi Channel, and reformatting it as a dedicated wrestling network. USA executives rejected the idea, and McMahon said that former USA Networks President Barry Baker encouraged her to talk to other programmers about potential deals. "I can tell you right now, Linda, you're not going to get anybody to give you a network," McMahon testified. In 2005, USA Network re-acquired the rights to all WWE programming.
In September 2011, WWE officially announced plans to launch the WWE Network in 2011 as a pay-TV channel. WWE then conducted a survey asking people if they would pay for the WWE Network if it were a premium channel. In an email sent to WWE fans who might be interested in the WWE Network, WWE surveyed fans for their thoughts about the WWE Network airing WWE's pay-per-views to subscribers for no additional charge. The survey also noted that feature repeats of Raw and SmackDown, as well as footage from World Championship Wrestling (WCW), Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), XFL, Smoky Mountain Wrestling (SMW), American Wrestling Association (AWA), and WWE movies would also make the lineup. Original programming was also noted in the survey.
As the result of an online poll, WrestleMania Recap was chosen as a name for a new WWE Network show on October 17, 2011. The original launch date was set for April 1, 2012, which would have coincided with WrestleMania XXVIII, and WWE's official website featured a countdown clock that would have expired on April 1. The clock was quietly removed, and the network did not launch as advertised. WWE chief marketing officer Michelle Wilson allayed fears about the future of the WWE Network, saying "There will be a WWE network in some shape or form. We are in late-stage negotiations with distributors", and confirmed that WWE Legends' House had been filmed. In April 2013, WWE had switched plans and aimed to release the WWE Network as a premium pay-TV outlet, with a potential price of $15 a month.