The WWE Network - still (at the moment) only $9.99 a month - has undergone its first major UI (User Interface) upgrade since it debuted in 2014. The switch was rolled out over the course of a couple days last week so, more than likely, if you haven't fired up the app in a bit, you should more than likely have the update already.
Just remember: if you haven't logged in since the update hit, you'll need to sign back into your account.
Really quick: we're basing this review on three different platforms the Network is available on: A PlayStation 4, an Xbox One S, and (to a lesser extent) a smart TV with Roku built into it. The mobile and web browser versions are a different animal, and I just tried to stick with what people are most likely going to be using when they want to watch "Swerved" or something on a TV.
Just kidding. Nobody watches that.
Despite the fact that it's a significant aesthetic upgrade - and it really does look a lot better - there's not much in the way of Quality of Life changes. But, since we're on the subject, let's talk about that.
The background is, thankfully, a slick charcoal gray, which really makes the text and images pop out and easy to see. It's really clean - almost minimalist, in a way - on our the gaming systems we tested the interface on, it was really easy to find what we're looking for.
(Speaking of which: where did the collections go?)
(Oh. That's where.)
The sections are now divided up into a WWE PPVS, material based on their three main shows (Raw, SmackDown and NXT), a page with Superstar info (we're getting to that), other in-ring content, and their original stuff. Plus, a schedule for their live stream. So, you can find out when the Great Balls of Fire Kickoff Show is over or something.
The search engine is only modestly improved but, with the improvements to the layout, you probably won't need it. Still, an option to bring previous searches back up would have been nice. I get really tired of having to type "Waylon Mercy" over and over again.
The Superstar sections are a nice touch. Complete with the same information that's available on WWE.com, the new Network app lets you browse through the bios and stats of individual performers, see content specifically related to them (for instance, if there's a WWE documentary on them), and mark which ones are your favorites to browse through later. It's pretty nice.
Speaking of the documentaries, they're all now under the "Original Content" heading, instead of tucked away beneath "Beyond the Ring", making them easier to find. If you're using Roku TV, though, they were next to impossible to locate. I don't know why. I imagine that's something they'll work on. At least that new Big Show feature is easy to find.
All of the on-demand stuff jumps right into the video from the very beginning. No longer do you have to sit through that little interlude where you are dramatically informed as to what the TV rating of the program is. It's now in the program description. Also gone are the bookmarks along the progress bar. Instead, there's a detailed list of jump points below the video you can click on - for example, every Royal Rumble event has a jump point right to the main RR match (or matches).
Also, if you decide that you're not really interested in watching the Bushwackers vs the Beverly Brothers, there's an easy to use "Skip Match" button. You just press it and... skip the match. I told you it was easy.
So, final verdict? It's modestly better. It certainly looks cleaner and it's slightly easier to navigate. The search feature really isn't much improved - at least, not to any point that you'd actually want to start using it. The 'Superstars" tab is pretty nice, and it's probably the biggest improvement in the whole upgrade.
But, overall, it's nothing overwhelming. I don't know. Was it supposed to be? I can think of so many other new features that other similar services are doing that I would think would be so easy to implement. I would have loved to see way more personalization options, maybe custom playlists - or a custom feed (like how music services will create a "radio station" based on a band you've selected). Yes, I know there's a "watchlist" feature, but... that's not the same.
Maybe I'll expand more on that later.
At the end of the day, though. it's software. And software can be continuously upgraded and improved. Can being the operative word.
If you already have a WWE Network subscription, you'll probably enjoy the changes - they more than likely won't make you want to cancel, anyway. It certainly isn't going to drive in any new subscribers - although I can't imagine it was intended to.
In general, however, it's nice. Other than appearance, it's not significantly better than the old version, but it's nice.
Kind of like me with a new haircut.
What about you guys? What do you think of the UI change? Do you like it? Are you too busy watching Swerved to notice? Let us know in the comments section.Published 30 Jul 2019, 00:13 IST