×

Facebook Nabs WWE Live Show Featuring Face-Offs Between Raw, SmackDown Talent Rosters

Facebook is bringing WWE’s performers into its live-streaming video ring.

The social giant has secured exclusive rights to a live weekly show from WWE, “Mixed Match Challenge.” The 12-episode series is designed as a single-elimination, tag-team tournament pitting male and female stars from its Raw and SmackDown Live rosters — and will let fans get in on the action by voting on certain elements of the matches.

The show will stream live in the U.S. exclusively on Facebook’s Watch platform on Tuesday nights, starting Jan. 16 at 10 p.m. ET, following “SmackDown Live” on USA Network.

Facebook is paying WWE for the distribution rights to “Mixed Match Challenge,” but reps declined to disclose the terms of the agreement. After an unspecified window on the social platform, WWE will have the option to distribute the series as VOD on its over-the-top subscription streaming platform, WWE Network.

Each 20-minute live episode of “Mixed Match Challenge” will be produced in a way that’s optimized for mobile viewing and social interaction, according to WWE. Fans will have the opportunity to vote on Facebook for the final competitor from the Raw roster, as well as which tag-team member of The New Day will be added to the SmackDown Live team.

“It highlights our ability to create content specific for a social platform,” said Jayar Donlan, WWE executive VP of digital and social content. “Fan interaction is a big piece of it… It’s kind of like being at an event.”

“Mixed Match Challenge” episodes won’t carry advertising. Dan Reed, Facebook’s head of global sports partnerships, said the company is still testing ad insertion in live programming and expects to eventually sell advertising in content on Watch.

In other words, Facebook is still essentially in the proof-of-concept phase of its video push. Reed said WWE, with a track record of experimenting with new formats and its strong digital footprint, was “an ideal partner to demonstrate how the live sports viewing experience can be reimagined on Facebook Watch.”

“Mixed Match Challenge” will be shot in the same city and by the same crew that produces “SmackDown Live” for USA. But the Facebook show will have its own “look and feel,” according to Donlan, incorporating tighter shots of the action, “bolder, brighter graphics” and 360-degree video.

The winner of the WWE’s “Mixed Match Challenge” tournament will win $100,000 to be donated to the charity of their choice.

WWE is slated to announce the tag-team partners for the show Jan. 4. The “Monday Night Raw” roster includes Alexa Bliss; Alicia Fox; Asuka; Bayley; Braun Strowman; Enzo Amore; Finn Bálor; Nia Jax; Goldust; Sasha Banks; and The Miz.

From “SmackDown Live,” the lineup includes Becky Lynch; Bobby Roode; Carmella; Charlotte Flair; Jimmy Uso; Lana; Naomi; Natalya; Rusev; Sami Zayn; Shinsuke Nakamura; and the fan-voted member of The New Day.

According to WWE, the storylines for “Mixed Match Challenge” will continue between episodes across WWE’s Facebook pages with short-form video and other content. WWE will also promote the series across its  digital and social footprint.

On Facebook, WWE has nearly 500 million likes cumulatively across all pages (WWE’s main Facebook page has about 38 million followers), and star John Cena is the most-followed active U.S. athlete on Facebook with more than 45 million likes.

Facebook’s Watch, launched initially in the U.S. late this summer, is available on desktop, mobile and connected-TV apps. WWE fans can follow “Mixed Match Challenge” on Facebook (at facebook.com/WWEMixedMatchChallenge) to add episodes to their Watchlists for alerts about new episodes.

Watch the trailer for WWE’s “Mixed Match Challenge”:

More Digital

  • BURBANK, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 18: (EDITORIAL

    Dax Shepard, Bobby Bones, 'Breakfast Club' Among iHeartRadio Podcast Awards Winners

    iHeartRadio launched its first ever Podcast Awards on Friday (January 18) in Los Angeles. Among the winners in 22 categories were “Whine Down with Jana Kramer” (Best Entertainment TV Podcast); “Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard (Breakout Podcast); “Bobbycast” (Music Podcast); and “The Breakfast Club” (Best Multicultural Podcast). The winners were determined by iHeartRadio listeners. Taking the top prize of Podcast [...]

  • Velvet Buzzsaw trailer

    Netflix Original Movies: What to Look Forward To in 2019

    Following the biggest fourth-quarter worldwide subscriber gain ever and some controversy around increased prices in the U.S., Netflix looks to keep its momentum going into 2019. From Jan. 18 through March, the streaming site will release 10 original films, including action-packed thrillers, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi, quirky comedies, inspirational dramas, an artistic horror movie and a viral [...]

  • The Beatles Eight Days a Week

    Imagine's Documentary Arm Sets First-Look Pact With Apple (EXCLUSIVE)

    Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Documentaries has set a first-look pact with Apple to develop non-fiction features and series. The deal comes as Imagine is investing heavily in the premium non-fiction arena. The company in June recruited RadicalMedia veteran Justin Wilkes to head Imagine Documentaries as president. The deal suggests that Apple sees docu [...]

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Unveils Financial Data for DTC Unit, Sets April 11 for Investor Presentation

    Disney has rejiggered its business segments for earnings reporting to make room for the new unit housing its global streaming operations. Disney on Friday released restated earnings for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016 to give investors and financial analysts better visibility into its spending on the launch of the Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and other [...]

  • Facebook Logo

    Release of Docs to Reveal How Facebook Made Money Off Children

    Documents related to a 2012 lawsuit against Facebook in which children, sometimes unwittingly, spent their parents’ money on games via the social site will be unsealed, according to a Monday ruling from the United States District Court. The court gave Facebook ten days to file unredacted documents in accordance with the ruling. The 2012 lawsuit [...]

  • Facebook Logo

    Facebook Sets Up New Product Group for AR Glasses (Report)

    Facebook has restructured its augmented and virtual reality research division and set up a new group tasked with building augmented reality (AR) glasses, according to a new Business Insider report. Facebook acknowledged the move in a statement given to the publication, saying that the move affected “a few hundred people.” The group has already built [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content