Pro wrestling fans in the U.S. will soon be grappling with a significant transition in their streaming habits, with the WWE Network heading to Peacock.
Starting March 18, as the companies announced in January, the NBCUniversal service will begin rolling out WWE Network content. Stand-alone WWE streaming service will go dark in the U.S. on April 4, they revealed today, though it will continue to operate in other global territories.
The timing means that viewers will be able to access Fastlane, a pay-per-view event slated for this month, through the wrestling circuit’s app as well as Peacock. By the time WrestleMania 37 comes up on April 10 and 11, though, the only option will be Peacock, which costs $5 a month with ads or $10 without. (A select number of pay-TV and broadband customers get Peacock bundled into their subscriptions at no extra cost.)
In a special offer aimed at keeping wrestling fans in the ring, NBCU is offering new subscribers to Peacock Premium a 50%-off rate of $10 for the first four months.
The WWE Network was an early pioneer in direct-to-consumer streaming when it launched in 2014. It was engineered by BAMTech, which would later be acquired by Disney. Over time, subscriber levels plateaued and the WWE faced a host of challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.
NBCU and the WWE said a dedicated page on Peacock will let viewers browse and access every pay-per-view event in the last calendar year. There will also be originals like Steve Austin’s The Broken Skull Sessions, WWE Chronicle, and WWE Icons; new weekly episodes of NXT the day after air. Peacock subscribers will also get 2021 replays of RAW and SmackDown 30 days after air and a menu of documentaries, reality series and playlists.
After the WWE Network is unplugged, its content will be added in phases to Peacock. The companies say the entire WWE Network archive, which spans all WWE, WCW, and ECW pay-per-view events, will be available on demand before SummerSlam in August.
Peacock Premium will be the destination for all upcoming pay-per-views as well as current seasons of WWE originals. Peacock’s free tier will offer a new WWE channel; select WWE Original shows; reality shows like Miz and Mrs., Total Bellas, and Total Divas; recent in-ring content. New weekly episodes of select live shows like RAW Talk and The Bump, will also stream on the free tier, both live and on demand.
NBCU parent Comcast said in January that Peacock had generated 33 million sign-ups, but it has not offered any more specifics, including any numbers for the premium tier. When Peacock was touted to investors in January 2020 ahead of its launch, NBCU said it expected to reach 30 million to 35 million active users by 2025. In addition to the WWE deal, Peacock Premium just added the entire run of The Office, which was previously a major streaming draw on Netflix.
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