Netflix Strikes US$5 Billion Deal to Stream WWE Raw, Expanding into Live Events
Netflix secures a more than US$5 billion deal to exclusively stream WWE Raw from January 2025. The 10-year partnership includes streaming rights for Raw in the U.S., Canada, Britain, Latin America, and other territories. Netflix will also have exclusive rights to telecast all WWE shows, specials, and pay-per-view events outside of the United States.
In a bold move into the world of live events, Netflix has secured a rights deal worth over US$5 billion to become the exclusive home of World Wrestling Entertainment's (WWE) Raw starting from January 2025. This 10-year partnership will see Raw available for streaming on Netflix in the United States, Canada, Britain, Latin America, and other territories.
As part of the agreement, Netflix will also have exclusive rights to telecast all WWE shows and specials, including SmackDown, as well as pay-per-view events like WrestleMania and Royal Rumble outside of the United States. The news of this groundbreaking deal sent shares of TKO Group Holdings, the parent company of WWE, soaring by 21% in early trading.
Netflix has the option to extend the deal for another 10 years or choose to opt out after the initial five years. This move into live events marks a significant expansion for the streaming giant, which has previously experimented with live programming such as comedian Chris Rock's stand-up special, "Selective Outrage," and successful sports-related content like the Formula 1 racing documentary series, "Drive to Survive," and the behind-the-scenes golf documentary series, "Full Swing."
The company's foray into live sports events began in October with "The Netflix Cup," featuring athletes from "Drive to Survive" and "Full Swing." Netflix's third-quarter investor letter hinted at further developments in this area, signaling a shift from CEO Ted Sarandos's previous stance that Netflix was "in the sports business" focused on the drama of sport rather than live games.
Mark Shapiro, president of TKO, praised Netflix for finding the perfect balance between live sports programming and entertainment. He stated that Netflix "threaded the needle perfectly," and emphasised that the deal with Netflix expands WWE's reach and brings appointment viewing to the streaming platform.
The agreement with Netflix represents the streaming giant's first long-term investment in live events that cater to a dedicated, multi-generational fan base. Unlike traditional professional sports, WWE's year-round competition offers consistent viewership, making it an attractive addition to Netflix's ad-supported streaming service, known as AVOD.
"This will be a monster impact player for their AVOD platform," Shapiro commented on the deal's potential impact on Netflix's ad-supported streaming service.
Raw, which airs on Mondays, is the flagship show on the USA Network, owned by Comcast. With an average of 17.5 million unique viewers per year, Raw has become a reliable audience draw. This reliability will undoubtedly benefit Netflix as it continues to build its AVOD platform.
The current rights agreement between WWE and Comcast is set to expire this year. Under the existing deal, Raw was paid approximately US$265 million annually for the rights, according to Bloomberg News. The merger between WWE and Endeavor Group's UFC last year resulted in the formation of TKO Group Holdings, creating one of the most prominent names in wrestling and entertainment with a valuation of US$21 billion.
Netflix secures a more than $5 billion deal to exclusively stream WWE Raw from January 2025.
The 10-year partnership includes streaming rights for Raw in the U.S., Canada, Britain, Latin America, and other territories.
Netflix will also have exclusive rights to telecast all WWE shows, specials, and pay-per-view events outside of the United States.