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WWE and Netflix join forces for $5 billion, a tag-team blow to linear TV

Jan 23

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There’s a new tag team in town hoping to take over the world of professional wrestling. WWE and Netflix are joining forces, stepping in the ring together for a 10-year streaming deal for WWE’s flagship television show, “Raw.”

After a 31-year relationship with linear TV, “Raw” will begin streaming on Netflix in January 2025. The show currently attracts more than 2 million viewers each week on the USA Network, according to TKO, WWE’s parent company.

Netflix has its sights set on being the head of the table when it comes to live-streamed content. The WWE programming follows last year’s Chris Rock special and its first live sporting event, the Netflix Cup golf tournament (the “Love is Blind” live reunion flop doesn’t make the cut, since Netflix failed to stream it live after agonizing technical difficulties).

In addition to streaming the weekly appointment TV of “Raw,” the Netflix deal also includes streaming all of WWE’s other offerings outside the U.S., including “SmackDown,” “NXT” and live premium events like the “Royal Rumble” and “Wrestlemania.”

The brass tacks

The WWE-Netflix deal is valued at more than $5 billion, according to a filing by TKO, the company formed with the WWE-UFC merger. That is nearly double the annual value of WWE’s current deal with NBCUniversal.

Netflix’s rights last for 10 years but the streaming giant has the option to extend the agreement for another 10 years if it doesn’t want the ride to end. On the other side, if it’s a subscriber flop, Netflix can opt-out after the first five years.

In other news

As if a major streaming deal wasn’t enough, TKO announced Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is joining its board of directors and taking a more direct role in promoting the brand.

TKO will pay Johnson $30 million in stock. Johnson is also gaining full ownership of his trademarked wrestling moniker, “The Rock.” That will allow the wrestling-giant-turned-Hollywood-A-lister to earn more money off his name, image and likeness.

As for what’s next for the People’s Champ, the wrestling world is on the edge of its seat for a potential family feud between TKO’s newest board member and his “cousin,” Roman Reigns.

Tags: , ,

Simone Del Rosario: So…what do you guys wanna talk about? Sorry Cody Rhodes, had to steal your line.

In the spirit of the Hart Foundation, the Hardys and the Dudleys, and the Usos, there’s a new tag team in town hoping to take over the world of professional wrestling.

WWE and Netflix are joining forces, a la the Mega Powers, stepping in the ring together for a 10-year deal. The WWE’s flagship television show “Raw” will move to the streaming service beginning January 2025.

It’s a dramatic departure from Raw’s 31-year relationship with linear TV. The show currently attracts more than 2 million viewers each week on the USA Network.

Netflix has its sights set on being the head of the table when it comes to live-streaming content.

The WWE programming follows last year’s Chris Rock special and its first live sporting event, the Netflix Cup golf tournament.

We won’t talk about that Love is Blind dumpster fire.

Netflix also gets streaming rights to all of WWE’s other offerings outside the U.S., including TV shows “Smackdown” and “NXT” and live premium events like the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania.

I don’t mean to break kayfabe here, folks, but let’s get down to the real business at hand: the price.

WWE clip: Everybody’s got a price.

Simone Del Rosario: That’s right, Million Dollar Man, everybody does have a price, and this deal is valued at more than $5 billion, according to filings by TKO, the company formed with the WWE-UFC merger.

That’s nearly double the annual value of WWE’s current “Raw” deal with NBCUniversal. There goes WWE climbing the ladder to snag that money in the bank briefcase.

The deal’s for 10 years. Netflix has an option to extend the agreement if they don’t want the ride to end, like fans clamoring for one more match from a retiring legend.

But if it’s a subscriber flop, the streaming giant can also opt out after the first five years.

WWE clip: Oh! Oh I knew he was gonna do that. I just knew he was gonna do that. He don’t need Jannetty.

Simone Del Rosario: If that’s not enough, there’s more big news happening in the WWE universe as Wrestlemania kicks off – someone just joined TKO’s board of directors…oh I just remembered this…what’s your name again?

The Rock: It doesn’t matter what your name is.

Simone Del Rosario: Oh, but it does. First, TKO is paying Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson $30 million in stock to promote the brand.

And second, Johnson is gaining full ownership of his trademarked wrestling moniker “The Rock.” Meaning he’ll cash in even more on his name, image and likeness.

What’s next for the people’s champ? Perhaps a family feud where the newest member of the board agrees to take on his cousin the tribal chief Roman Reigns?

That’s another deal the millions…

The Rock: Literally millions (and millions)

Simone Del Rosario: …of wrestling fans would love to see. If you smell what we’re cooking.

 

 

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