March 26, 2021
We have a new episode of our Disco Music showcase on The AIR, and an early impression of WWE Network on Peacock to tell you about today, so let’s dive in.
Friday afternoon we offer up a new episode of MIRRORBALL and encore a recent Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. The AIR is PopCult’s sister radio shation. You can hear these shows on The AIR website, or just click on the embedded player at the top right column of this blog.
At 2 PM, Mel Larch uncorks a new MIRRORBALL! The AIR’s showcase of classic Disco music presents a salute to Larry Levan, the legendary DJ who held court at the famed Paradise Garage in New York City for ten years, and who defined the era of the extended dance remix, while pioneering what evolved into House Music.
We get an example of Levan’s remix wizardry on this week’s show…
Jimmy Castor Bunch “It’s Just Begun”
LOGG “I Know You Will”
The Inner Life featuring Jocelyn Brown “Make It Last Forever”
Bunny Sigler “By The Way You Dance”
First Choice “Double Cross”
Instant Funk “Bodyshine”
Solsoul Orchestra “How High”
You can hear MIRRORBALL every Friday at 2 PM, with replays Saturday at 8 PM, Sunday at 11 PM, Tuesday at 1 PM and Wednesday at 7 PM, exclusively on The AIR. This week’s new MIRRORBALL will kick off a Disco Marathon Saturday night until Midnight.
At 3 PM, Sydney Fileen graces us with an encore of an episode of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat celbrating the New Wave Music of Australia, which you can read about HERE . This is all-live New Wave extravaganza.
Sydney’s Big Electric Cat is produced at Haversham Recording Institute in London, and can be heard every Friday at 3 PM, with replays Saturday afternoon, Monday at 7 AM, Tuesday at 8 PM, Wednesday at Noon and Thursday at 10 AM, exclusively on The AIR.
You can also hear select episodes of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat as part of the overnight Haversham Recording Institute marathon that starts every Monday at 11 PM.
Powerslamming The Peacock
A couple of months ago, I wrote about a big change on the streaming television landscape. WWE Network will cease to exist in the United States on April 4.
The Network is moving its library and all new programming to NBC/Universal’s Peacock streaming service, and while the realization of this Billion-dollar deal hasn’t been a completely smooth transition so far, it’s not as bad as some folks say it is. In fact, for some of us, the move brings a vast improvement in the service.
Only a fraction of the tens of thousands of hours of WWE programming from their vast library has made the move so far. It will take months for them to make every bit of that wrestling programming from the last thirty-plus years available on Peacock, if they go that far with it. This is going to really upset people who loved diving into that library and reliving old classic matches and PPVs.
To make up for this, Peacock is offering a sign-up bonus. New subscribers can get four months for half-price, and that’s half of $4.99. The WWE Network was $9.99 a month, so the move to Peacock is already saving fans five bucks a month. This introductory deal cuts that price in half for a third of a year.
However, in addition to the missing library programming, there are a lot of missing features that have ticked off some very vocal critics. Peacock does not yet offer viewers the ability to pause or rewind live broadcasts. If you see something spectacular and want to re-watch it immediately…you can’t. You have to wait until the live broadcast is over and then watch it again.
This has really angered the wrestling press, who rely on that function to make sure they get details right when they’re covering the live shows. It’s an understandable gripe for those folks, who actually use those features. Chapter breaks that make it easy to find specific matches in the old PPVs are also missing, and that has some fans and historians really angry at the new way of getting WWE Network.
However, the vast majority of WWE Network subscribers likely do not ever use those features. I know I don’t, and I’ve been a WWE Network subscriber almost since day one. I’ve seen reports that 90% of the WWE Network’s traffic is from people watching new programming, not the classic on-demand library.
Most WWE Network viewers get the network so they can watch the live Pay Per Views specials, plus the fresh documentary shows like 2020’s Undertaker: The Last Ride series. They don’t really use pause or rewind or chapter breaks. For the mainstream fan, ten bucks a month to watch all the PPVs was a bargain, and everything else was gravy…and now it costs half that, and they’re just as happy as before.
In my case, I’m much, much happier. The WWE Network stream was unstable and barely watchable for me much of the time. I have over a hundred channels on my Roku, and the only one that ever gave me any major buffering problems was WWE Network.
They switched up the service provider for their stream a few years ago, and since that happened, my signal would rarely go more than ten minutes without needing rebooted. Sometimes during a PPV special, the stream would break every minute or so. It got so bad I came very close to cancelling my subscription at the beginning of 2020. After much complaining, they did refund a month’s subscription fee to me, and I stuck with them because the service slightly improved, but it was still pretty damned annoying to watch a live PPV.
Last week I signed up for Peacock so I could see how they did with the stream for the Fastlane PPV.
It was flawless. I had a beautiful, full-HD signal for the entire event, and didn’t have to exit the app and go back in once. And the signal was consistently HD. On the WWE Network, oftentimes the picture would degrade and drop down to sub-standard-definition quality for several minutes at a time. At times the screen would look like Minecraft, it was so blocky.
So for me, WWE Network moving to Peacock means a vastly improved viewing experience. I’ll be paying half as much each month. I won’t have any more stress from constantly having to fiddle with the remote.
The picture quality is impeccable, and on top of that, I get the rest of Peacock included in the deal, so I have a huge library of programming, from current NBC shows to classics like Columbo and even weird cartoons like the 1990s Felix The Cat reboot. I enjoy wrestling, but I’m way more likely to watch a classic Tim Kazurinsky sketch from a 1983 Saturday Night Live than ever watch an episode of WCW Nitro.
Peacock is doing one thing that gives me reason to be concerned. They are editing controversial bits of classic WWE programming. Some of this, like Roddy Piper in blackface, will not be missed, but if they start editing out the raunchier bits of the WWE Attitude Era, or the bloodier bits of ECW, then they will anger many longtime fans.
We will worry about that if or when it happens. For now, I’m just thrilled that, in two weeks, when Peacock is the exclusive home to much of the Wrestlemania week programming, I won’t have to deal with the constant headache of wondering when the stream would collapse.
And that is this week’s PopCulteer. Check back for all our regular features and fresh content every day.