World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and NBCUniversal have announced an exclusive U.S. partnership for WWE Network and Peacock. The two companies have already collaborated with a limited amount of content on the Peacock streaming service. This deal — rumored to be $1-billion over five years — greatly expands on the partnership. For U.S. customers, WWE Network becomes a new part of the Peacock streaming service starting March 18, 2021.
At a glance, the deal seems like a huge win for everyone involved. I’m excited by the potential of the partnership for both WWE Network and Peacock. As a self-absorbed writer, I’m also excited for what it means for me. Using the immortal words of the Degeneration-X theme song, read on as I “break it down!”
Why WWE Network and Peacock is Great for WWE
As with most forms of sports and live entertainment, WWE had an extremely challenging year in 2020 due to the
BOSH COVID-19 pandemic. Losing revenue from live events required staff and talent cuts, as well as figuring out how to change its product presentation on the fly (not easy to do with two live shows a week).
Beyond that, the company’s television ratings have been steadily declining for years. In December 2020, WWE’s flagship show WWE RAW received the lowest ratings in its 27-year history. Low ratings means less advertising revenue, which is essential when live events are impossible or extremely limited in most parts of the world.
WWE licensing its WWE Network content to Peacock means a sizable cash injection. It also means unprecedented reach. On its own, WWE Network never had more than two-million subscribers. Peacock, on the other hand, already has more than 26-million. For WWE, it doesn’t matter if they’re “free” subs for Comcast and Cox customers — eyeballs are eyeballs, and WWE Network will be getting access to more people than ever before starting in March.
Why WWE Network and Peacock is Great for Peacock
The streaming market is viciously competitive. Consumers have so many great choices: Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney +, and more. Starting a new service and competing with well-established incumbents is a daunting task. Unsurprisingly, Peacock has struggled to compete for paid subscribers in its first six months of existence.
As with any streaming video service, the hook is exclusive content. While Peacock has had a steady stream of original television content, its two biggest hooks are arguably Premier League football and The Office. WWE Network has a broader U.S. appeal than the former and unlike the latter, new content is still being made.
Content is king and Peacock is getting a helluva (Sami Zayn™) lot of content. Starting in March the streaming service will have live WWE PPV events, new weekly shows, and more than 17,000 hours of archived content. This is a huge get that will help attract and, more importantly, retain subscribers.
Why WWE Network and Peacock is Great for Me
Naturally, this is the most important section of this article. Just kidding. Seriously though, the partnership between NBCU and WWE is tremendous for me. On the WWE Network side, I’ve been an on-and-off subscriber over the years. I recently cancelled my sub in mid-2020 because most of the new non-NXT content was garbage. (My life will be better if I never have to see Baron Corbin wrestle again, for example.) While most WWE programming in 2020 sucked, there was some stuff I missed (more on that in a bit).
As for Peacock, I’ve been a subscriber since the service launched in July 2020. I’m a big Premier League fan and need the service to watch all Manchester City league games. Peacock’s strong movie offerings, which are a great mix of box office hits and independent film, have been a pleasant surprise. While I wouldn’t say that the service has dazzled me or that it’s been a great value, it was necessary as a football fan and I’m satisfied with my purchase.
While the last few years of WWE programming have (mostly) frustrated me (mostly because of Vince McMahon’s out-of-touch decisions), there’s a lot of content that I miss. NXT is almost always my favorite pro-wrestling weekly, the interview shows are usually strong, and it’s great re-watching old matches. I didn’t miss it enough to pay $9.99 a month for it, but the content will absolutely enhance the value of my annual Peacock subscription. I’m looking forward to having access to WWE content once again.
Your Thoughts on the Deal?
What do you think of the deal between NBCU and WWE? If you’re already a Peacock subscriber, does WWE Network content help keep your sub? If you haven’t subscribed, does WWE Network content make Peacock more appealing to you? In the immortal words of The Rock, know your role, shut your mouth, and type your thoughts in the comments section!