Peacock Exclusively Pins WWE Network in the U.S.

WWE Peacock
Peacock will be streaming the WWE Network

Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming network said it reached a deal with WWE that gives Peacock exclusive streaming rights to the WWE Network in the U.S.

Financial terms were not disclosed.  According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the deal covers five years and is worth more than $1 billion.

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WWE Network will be available to Peacock Premium subscribers for $4.99 a month, a $5 savings, starting March 18. The subscription includes WWE pay per view events including Wrestlemania.

Read Also: NBCU Plans to Shut Down NBCSN Cable Sports Net 

Comcast and Cox subscribers will get WWE Network free, according to WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon. Those subscribers also get Peacock Premium for no additional fee.

"NBCUniversal has a long-standing relationship with WWE that began nearly 30 years ago with Monday Night Raw on USA. WWE has always tapped into the cultural zeitgeist with spectacular live events and larger-than-life characters, and we are thrilled to be the exclusive home for WWE Network and its millions of fans across the country,” said Rick Cordella, executive VP and chief revenue officer, Peacock. “WWE Network is a transformative addition to the platform and complements Peacock’s massive catalog of iconic movies and shows, as well as the best live news and sports, from NBCUniversal and beyond.” 

WWE Network will provide more than 17,000 hours of new original and library programming on demand and on a full-time linear channel.

“We are thrilled to further the long-standing and trusted partnership WWE has with NBCUniversal,” said Nick Khan, WWE president and chief revenue officer. “Peacock is an innovative platform that will enable us to showcase our most significant events, including WrestleMania, and provide the extraordinary entertainment our fans have come to expect with the combination of premium WWE content, live sports, news, films, and television programs.”

The WWE also released preliminary results for fiscal 2020 and guidance for 2021 that analysts said were in line with expectations.

“On balance, we think this is positive news and is a bullish read on the value of WWE content,” John Belton, analyst at Evercore ISI, said in a note Monday morning.

"However, if the WSJ terms are correct, we have difficulty reconciling this with the new 2021 estimated OIBDA guidance range of $270-$305M,” Belton added. “This could imply a significant increase in year-over-year expenses, some of which is explainable due to COVID-19 related content production changes but still surprising to us “

Steven Cahall of Wells Fargo, noted that the WWE Network had been running at break-even at best. “We value WWE Network at $226 million,” he said, based on about 1.5 million subscribers and $182 million in subscriber and PPV revenue.

Cahall’s thoughts about why WWE won’t be more profitable after the Peacock deal included the notion that Peacock revenue might ramp gradually, that costs from WWE Network would also recede slowly and that WWE would use funds from the licensing deal to invest in more content.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.