There's no denying the world is going digital, especially the wrestling world. WWE started the trend then Anthem Sports hopped on board. Clearly, one has found success while the other is still toying with how it delivers a product they have to pay people to watch, but the idea is generally the same. Reach as many eyeballs as you can and make it easy for fans to access your content.
Ring of Honor (ROH) had no desire at first to follow suit by going digital with their product. But a recent change of thinking has now made the trendy and popular independent wrestling company another group who sees the writing on the wall and will be throwing their name into the digital ring.
CBS Local Sports conducted an interview with ROH COO Joe Koff. In it he said that the company will be introducing an app that will allow ROH fans (and there are a lot of them all of a sudden) to access their video library and potentially other content starting in the first quarter of next year.
Koff said, "It really became developmentally the right time to do it. We saw an opportunity. We had a long discussion about it. We looked at the business model and how it impacts our business. We just felt that this was the time to create our own Ring of Honor stream." ROH tried streaming parts of the Global Wars tour with great success and it gave them the confidence to move ahead with a more macro-style approach.
So what can fans expect from this new app that will be available online and as a mobile app for Android and iOS operating systems? The content, which will include an enhanced Honor Club, will also consist of streaming live events and potentially some pay-per-views. ROH, who plans to potentially partner with New Japan down the road, will also make the content available on Roku with plans for Apple TV and Android TV as well.
While the WWE may not yet have to worry about competition like ROH (who they themselves consider to be a niche company and not WWE competition), this adds a new layer of intrigue to a battle between companies that was starting to feel an awful lot like the Monday Night Wars.
The ROH has the Bullet Club, Kenny Omega, Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks and some of the best in-ring performers in the world. WWE is the WWE, but they also have shareholders and are a publicly traded company with some restrictions ROH doesn't have.
Competition is always good, and for the fans, this is great news. The WWE may not think so.