Dead on Arrival
The feed froze, then jumped to the home screen during Tyler Breeze's entrance. When we tried to get back to the live program, a flurry of issues occurred, from it starting over to it going live for a few seconds before jumping back to Breeze's entrance and freezing again. Eventually, I, at least, gave up on the program for the night.
At one point, WWE recommended on social media that anyone experiencing problems with the feed should "log out, uninstall the WWE app, reboot the (device), then reinstall the app again." The problem is, by the time a person goes through all these steps, quite a bit of a live program has been missed. Yes, we could rewind and watch what was missed, but that misses the point of watching it live.
Could you imagine having to troubleshoot in this manner during WrestleMania in April? What if the feed goes out during Undertaker's entrance and we end up missing what could possibly be his last match?
That is why I, for one, am not confident in the WWE's ability to deliver WrestleMania on this platform at the moment. ArRival was the test for me. It was a 2-hour program which probably didn't draw as many viewers as a typical PPV would. WrestleMania is twice as long and draws the most viewers. I know this is new and glitches should be expected, but WrestleMania is too big of an event for glitches to be a concern.
In fact, WWE Network issued this statement to subscribers early Friday morning:
During tonight's live "NXT ArRival" special, we unfortunately experienced technical difficulties, which are to expected when launching a new digital network. We will work aggressively to solve these glitches and deliver quality service. The complete event will be available on-demand overnight.
Unfortunately, "work aggressively" is also being used as the answer to Xbox users' inability to even log in to app. Yes, that's on Microsoft's head, but, at last check, they haven't seen results since the WWE Network launched on Monday.
If the situation was the other way around, with the performances failing and the feed being excellent, I would have been happier. I would have felt good about watching WrestleMania on this new format. I probably would have even understood why we keep getting the recycled Superstars in main events instead of seeing the younger talent get a chance.
This network is on the cutting edge of broadcasting sporting events, and it would be great to see it work and how it impacts more mainstream sports. Unfortunately, if the glitches continue, I fear it could end up like the XFL.