Terms for the multi-year deal were not disclosed, but a person familiar with the arrangement pegged it at about $1 billion.
The WWE Network’s 17,000-hour lineup of original and library content will be on Peacock’s $5-a-month premium tier. Some streaming channels and partner brands are offered on Peacock’s free, basic tier.
Peacock, which launched in mid-2020, has made sports a centerpiece of its strategy. The service streams Premier League soccer and has carried NFL football, NHL hockey and a range of other sports.
The WWE deal will give Peacock exclusive access to the WWE Network. Initially launched in 2014 as a $10-a-month subscription service and an early direct-to-consumer initiative, the network last year branched out into free, ad-supported streaming. Its presence on Peacock will include both on-demand programming and a 24/7 live channel, one of several dozen featured on Peacock in a linear-TV-esque feature.
The coronavirus pandemic has battered the WWE’s operations for nearly the past year. In a press release this morning, the company said it expects “restrictions” due to Covid-19, with reduced ticketing capacity and canceled or postponed events, to continue through the first half of 2021. Profit would be 15% to 20% higher, the company said, “without the ongoing impact of Covid-19, which includes the loss of ticket and merchandise sales at live events and the increased investment in production to further fan engagement.”
Programming included in the Peacock deal includes pay-per-view events including WrestleMania and SummerSlam; Fastlane; original series like Steve Austin Broken Skull Sessions, Undertaker: The Last Ride and the WWE Icons. Also in the mix are in-ring shows like NXT, NXT UK and WWE 205 Live, replays of Raw and SmackDown; WWE Network archives, including every WWE, WCW and ECW pay-per-view event in history; and documentaries like WWE 24, WWE Untold, and WWE 365. Starting in 2022, the plan is to feature one original documentary per year on Peacock.
“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 Vice President 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.”
“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 companies said they will share details on managing customer accounts closer to the Peacock launch in March.