NBCUniversal’s Peacock soon will be the only place to watch WWE Network in the U.S.
WWE and NBCU reached a multiyear agreement giving Peacock exclusive streaming rights to WWE Network for American viewers. The over-the-top wrestling entertainment service’s existing U.S. subscribers (about 1.1 million in total) will be migrated over to Peacock Premium, where they’ll continue to get access to WWE Network but will pay 50% less per month while getting full access to the version of the Peacock Premium tier with ads.
Peacock will launch WWE Network on March 18, 2021, when Peacock will begin the rollout of more than 17,000 hours of WWE Network new, original, and library programming (both on-demand and on a new 24-hour channel).
The NBCU streamer will have all WWE live events — for no additional charge — including WrestleMania and SummerSlam, with Fastlane the first event to stream on Peacock on Sunday, March 21. (WWE fans who would prefer to order events via traditional pay-per-view will still have that option.)
WWE Network will be available on Peacock Premium (which includes ads) for $4.99 per month, half the price of WWE Network’s current $9.99/month pricing. The no-commercials Peacock Premium Plus plan, which costs $9.99/month, also will include WWE Network.
The companies plans to share details of how existing WWE Network subscribers in the U.S. will be switched to Peacock (e.g., whether they will be automatically subscribed to Peacock) in the next few weeks. Nothing will change for WWE Network subscribers outside the U.S.
Financial terms of the Peacock-WWE Network pact were not disclosed. According to sources, it’s a five-year deal worth more than $1 billion over that time period.
“We feel great about the financials. Otherwise we wouldn’t have done the deal,” said Nick Khan, WWE’s president and chief revenue officer, who joined the company last August from CAA. “To have WrestleMania in particular — which is our Super Bowl — available [for no extra cost] on Peacock is quite different from other models you’re seeing.”
For Peacock, the WWE Network is “a transformative addition,” said Rick Cordella, Peacock’s EVP and chief revenue officer. “We have a lot of data that shows live events and sports drives a lot of user acquisition,” he said. “The bet is that there exists a much larger total available audience [for WWE programming] than is on WWE Network today.”
WWE and NBCU (and its predecessors) have been partners for more than 30 years. “Monday Night Raw” on USA, the first regular cable program from the wrestling-entertainment company, debuted in 1993. “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 Cordella.
In the third quarter of 2020, WWE Network had average paid subscribers of 1.6 million, down about 60,000 from the prior quarter but an increase of 6% year over year — marking the service’s first annual growth since Q1 of 2019. The entertainment company originally launched WWE Network in February 2014, when it ended its traditional pay-per-view events business.
Starting in 2022, WWE will produce “one signature documentary annually” for the WWE Network on Peacock. Also available on WWE Network are about 100 hours of original series like “Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Sessions,” “Undertaker: The Last Ride” and the recently premiered “WWE Icons”; in-ring shows like NXT, NXT UK and WWE 205 Live, as well as replays of “Raw” and “SmackDown”; WWE Network archives, including every WWE, WCW and ECW pay-per-view event in history; and documentaries including “WWE 24,” “WWE Untold” and “WWE 365.”
Peacock, which NBCU launched nationwide in July 2020, attracted nearly 22 million user “sign-ups” in its first six months of wide release, according to the company. Eligible customers of Comcast Xfinity X1 and Flex and Cox’s Contour — a total of about 24 million households — get Peacock Premium included at no additional cost.
Peacock’s content lineup includes a slate of originals, libraries of TV shows — including all episodes of “The Office” and “Yellowstone” — and films from Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination, and other studios. In addition, the OTT service provides news, sports, late-night, Spanish-language, and reality from across NBCUniversal.
Peacock Premium now offers more than 47,000 hours of programming. NBCU also offers a free, ad-supported version of Peacock with a trimmed-down bucket of content.
Pictured above: WWE Superstar Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania 36