Netflix has dabbled in live broadcasts over the last year or so, and now the company has announced a long-term deal with the WWE to broadcast its headline weekly show, Monday Night Raw, starting next year. This is the first time Monday Night Raw, which broadcasts live every week, is leaving traditional linear television, as it has been the No. 1 rated program on NBCUniversal’s USA Network, and it has tie-ins to NBCU’s streaming platform, Peacock.
The deal is even more comprehensive outside of the US, where Netflix is also obtaining the rights to WWE shows like SmackDown and NXT, plus monthly premium live events like WrestleMania, SummerSlam, and the Royal Rumble. NBCUniversal’s Peacock service still has the rights locked up for those premium live events in the US — at least for now. Netflix’s deal for Raw covers “the US, Canada, UK, and Latin America, among other territories, with additional countries and regions to be added over time.”
Aside from both companies confirming it’s a “long-term” deal, the terms were not disclosed officially. But according to Deadline, the agreement between Netflix and the WWE runs for 10 years and will cost the streamer more than $5 billion. The news was announced just hours ahead of Netflix’s next earnings call and comes amid increased competition, price hikes, and a focus on the company’s ad-supported streaming offerings.
WWE handles the production of its shows in-house, and after decades on the air, Raw is a well-oiled machine in that regard. So Netflix will only have to worry about streaming whatever feed WWE sends its way. Netflix’s live streaming efforts got off to a rocky start last year but have smoothed out with subsequent events. The company wasn’t even rumored as being in the mix for the rights to Monday Night Raw; in recent weeks, Amazon and Warner Bros. Discovery had been floated as potential new homes for the long-running show if WWE were to part with NBCUniversal.
Netflix chief content officer Bela Bajaria said in a statement, “By combining our reach, recommendations, and fandom with WWE, we’ll be able to deliver more joy and value for their audiences and our members. Raw is the best of sports entertainment, blending great characters and storytelling with live action 52 weeks a year and we’re thrilled to be in this long-term partnership with WWE.”
Disclosure: Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, is also an investor in Vox Media, The Verge’s parent company.
Disclosure: The Verge recently produced a series with Netflix.