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WWE-Netflix deal puts pressure on Peacock

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Jan 25, 2024
Photo illustration of a WWE Championship belt decorated with dollar signs.

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Netflix's landmark streaming deal with the WWE puts the pressure on Peacock to renew its own deal with the wrestling promotion.

Why it matters: Live sports and events are key to Peacock's survival, and in Netflix, they have their most formidable competition to staying in the ring.

State of play: Netflix's deal doesn't just make them the exclusive home for "Monday Night Raw"; it turned the streaming giant into the only home for WWE content everywhere outside the U.S.

  • That includes its other TV franchises SmackDown and NXT, as well as top-level WWE pay-per-views like Wrestlemania. Globally, Netflix is now the WWE's largest rights holder.
  • NBCUniversal signed a $1 billion streaming deal with the WWE to make Peacock the home for all PPVs, specials and library content, in addition to its three-decade run of televising "Raw" on USA.
  • That streaming deal with Peacock is up in 2026.

Of note: NBCUniversal has had a long and fruitful partnership with the WWE, but that was mostly when the WWE was an independent business. It's now part of TKO Group after being bought by Endeavor last year.

  • NBCUniversal managed to snag SmackDown, which will move to USA this fall, from Fox.

The big picture: Investors are still wary that streaming is a good business, and Peacock's position within the streaming hierarchy is tenuous at best.

  • Peacock now has 31 million subscribers, having added three million subs during the fourth quarter of 2023. That still puts it well behind the streaming heavyweights like Netflix, Amazon and Disney.
  • Comcast president Mike Cavanagh said as much during their earnings call Thursday morning: "It's not the scale we ultimately hope to get to."
  • Losses are narrowing: Peacock lost $825 million in the quarter, compared to $978 million in the same period a year earlier.
  • The streamer got a boost from the NFL this month when it exclusively aired an NFL playoff game, which drew 23 million viewers. More importantly, it led to 2.8 million signups, per data firm Antenna, the largest single event signup the firm has ever tracked.

The bottom line: With Netflix in the ring for the WWE, Peacock is under more pressure than ever to make its case that it's still the wrestling outfit's best home.

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