The streaming platform is making its first major foray into live sports, while WWE will get access to Netflix’s roughly 250 million global subscribers.
In a significant industry shift, WWE has inked a groundbreaking deal with Netflix, marking a historic move for its flagship weekly live wrestling show, ‘Monday Night Raw’. Beginning January 2025, ‘Raw’ will exclusively air on the streaming giant, breaking away from its traditional linear television network format for the first time in its thirty-year history.
Valued at a minimum of $400 million annually, the deal is anticipated to extend for more than five years, surpassing WWE’s current five-year agreement with NBCUniversal for ‘Raw’, valued at approximately $250-260 million per year. Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, Bela Bajaria, expresses excitement about the collaboration, highlighting the opportunity to combine Netflix’s extensive reach and recommendations with WWE’s passionate multigenerational fan base.
With ‘Raw’ currently airing on USA Network until October 2024 under the NBCUniversal deal, the interim broadcasting plan between the end of that deal and the commencement of the Netflix deal is still under consideration. Once the agreement takes effect, Netflix will serve as the exclusive home for ‘Raw’ in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Latin America, and other territories, with plans to expand to additional countries and regions. Netflix’s involvement extends beyond ‘Raw’, encompassing all WWE shows outside the U.S., including ‘SmackDown’ and ‘NXT,’ along with major annual events like WrestleMania, SummerSlam, and the Royal Rumble. The deal also includes documentaries, original series, and various additional projects, solidifying Netflix as the global television hub for WWE’s diverse content.
Nick Khan, WWE president, lauded Netflix’s storytelling prowess, considering it an ideal long-term home for ‘Raw’s’ live, loyal, and expanding fan base. Mark Shapiro, President and COO of WWE parent company TKO, emphasized the transformative nature of the deal, uniting WWE’s unmissable product with Netflix’s unparalleled global reach, ensuring significant and predictable economics for years to come. The partnership alters and strengthens the media landscape, expanding WWE’s reach and introducing weekly live appointment viewing to Netflix.
This agreement concludes WWE’s latest TV rights deals, following the sale of “SmackDown” rights to NBCUniversal and USA Network in a five-year, $1.4 billion deal. The shift of NXT to The CW, valued at approximately $20 million-$25 million a year for five years, further contributes to WWE’s strategic plans.
Netflix’s move into live programming gains momentum with the acquisition of ‘Raw’ rights, following successful tests with livestreamed events like ‘Chris Rock: Selective Outrage’ and a live ‘Love Is Blind’ reunion special. With ‘Raw’, Netflix secures a weekly year-round live program, a crucial step in the streaming revolution where competitors offer regular live sports programs.
Amazon’s exclusive rights to the NFL’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ for a decade starting in 2023 and Peacock, the streaming service under NBC Universal and the existing hub for WWE’s library content, achieved a notable milestone by attracting an audience of 23 million viewers during the broadcast of the NFL playoff game featuring the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins