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WWE Network lands on Peacock in exclusive ‘US$1bn’ streaming rights deal

NBCUniversal’s streaming platform agrees five-year deal to onboard WWE OTT service.

26 January 2021 Ed Dixon

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  • WWE Network subscribers to migrate to Peacock
  • Deal comes days after NBC announced planned closure of NBCSN, in part to focus on streaming

Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming platform, has snapped up exclusive US rights for the WWE Network over-the-top (OTT) service.

An official announcement from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) described the deal as a ‘multi-year agreement’, with The Wall Street Journal reporting the contract is valued at more than US$1 billion over five years.

Under the agreement, the WWE Network app will be shut down, with the OTT service’s programming and subscribers – which total around 1.5 million – to be migrated over to Peacock. Subscribers will continue to get access to WWE Network via Peacock Premium, which costs US$4.99 per month. The ad-free Peacock Premium Plus costs US$9.99 per month, the same as a WWE Network subscription.

Peacock will launch WWE Network on 18th March, when more than 17,000 hours of new, original and library WWE Network programming will be made available on demand and on a 24/7 channel.

All live pay-per-view (PPV) events, including WrestleMania and SummerSlam, will also be accessible on Peacock at no extra cost. The Fastlane event will be the first WWE PPV stream on Peacock on 21st March. Fans without a Peacock subscription will still be able to order events via traditional PPV.

In addition, starting in 2022, ‘one signature documentary’ will be produced annually.

The two companies said they will share details on managing customer accounts closer to the Peacock launch in March. The deal does not affect WWE Network subscribers outside the US.

Talk of WWE shifting its digital distribution strategy first emerged early last year, when the wrestling promotion’s chief executive Vince McMahon revealed WWE was in talks to sell the rights to its PPV events to another “major” streaming service, adding that platforms were “really clamouring” for WWE’s content.

“NBCUniversal has a long-standing relationship with WWE that began nearly 30 years ago with Monday Night Raw on USA. 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,” said Rick Cordella, executive vice president and chief revenue officer for Peacock.

“WWE Network is a transformative addition to the platform and complements Peacock’s massive catalogue of iconic movies and shows, as well as the best live news and sports, from NBCUniversal and beyond.” 

Nick Khan, WWE president and chief revenue officer, added: “We are thrilled to further the long-standing and trusted partnership WWE has with NBCUniversal.

“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 programmes.”

Peacock’s tie-up with WWE arrives just days after NBCUniversal said it would shut down NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) by the end of 2021. The move will look to beef out USA Network’s programming and help grow Peacock’s subscribers, with the WWE Network deal a clear sign of NBCUniversal’s ambitions in the streaming space.

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