NBCUniversal has tied up a lucrative deal with professional wrestling outlet WWE to make Peacock the exclusive streaming home of the WWE Network in the US.
The WWE Network, first launched in 2014 has one of the first specialist sports streaming services, is home to more than 17,000 hours of content along with a linear channel which provides users with access to the company’s monthly pay-per-view events. It currently has a total of around 1.1 million US subscribers paying US$9.99 per month.
The deal will see existing subscribers migrated to Peacock’s premium tier, which sets users back US$4.99 per month – representing a saving of US$60 per year. Many pay TV subscribers will also be offered the WWE Network, in effect, for free, with Peacock available to Comcast and Cox customers at no extra cost.
The WWE Network will remain unchanged for customers outside of the US, though the deal may indicate a possibility of similar distribution arrangements in strong pro wrestling markets like the UK and Germany. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer speculated that this could potentially be a precursor to a full sale of the WWE to NBC.
Details are scarce at the moment, with both parties saying that more information will be announced ahead of the March 18 launch.
The WWE already had a strong relationship with NBCU, with its flagship programme Monday Night Raw being a mainstay on its USA Network for more than 15 years. A small number of documentaries produced for the WWE Network were already available on Peacock.
The wrestling promotion had been looking to sell its streaming rights for over a year, and had been in talks with Disney’s ESPN over potentially integrating its PPVs within ESPN+. NBCU however has evidently won out, with the WSJ reporting that the five-year deal is valued at more than US$1 billion.
Rick Cordella, executive vice president and chief revenue officer, Peacock, said: “WWE has always tapped into the cultural zeitgeist with spectacular live events and larger-than-life characters, and we are thrilled to be the exclusive home for WWE Network and its millions of fans across the country. WWE Network is a transformative addition to the platform and complements Peacock’s massive catalog of iconic movies and shows, as well as the best live news and sports, from NBCUniversal and beyond.”
Nick Khan, a seasoned media executive who was hired as the WWE’s president and chief revenue officer in August 2020, said: “Peacock is an innovative platform that will enable us to showcase our most significant events, including WrestleMania, and provide the extraordinary entertainment our fans have come to expect with the combination of premium WWE content, live sports, news, films, and television programs.”