Credit: Netflix

Tunji Faleye with agency report

Netflix is making a significant foray into the realm of live events through a colossal $5 billion rights deal, positioning itself as the exclusive platform for World Wrestling Entertainment's Raw starting January 2025. The extensive 10-year partnership will see Raw featured on Netflix in the United States, Canada, Britain, Latin America, and various other territories, as disclosed by the involved companies.

As part of the agreement, Netflix will also gain exclusive broadcasting rights outside the U.S. for all WWE shows and specials, including SmackDown, along with pay-per-view live events like WrestleMania and Royal Rumble.

Following the announcement of the deal, shares of TKO Group Holdings, the parent company of WWE, witnessed a notable surge of 21% in early trading, while Netflix's shares remained stable.

The streaming giant holds the option to extend the deal for an additional 10 years or to opt out after the initial five years. Netflix's venture into live events commenced last year with the airing of comedian Chris Rock's stand-up special, "Selective Outrage." The platform has also experienced success in sports-related programming, exemplified by the Formula 1 racing documentary series, "Drive to Survive," and the behind-the-scenes golf documentary series, "Full Swing."

While Netflix initially emphasized its focus on the drama of sports rather than live games, the recent deal with WWE marks a strategic shift. The third-quarter investor letter hinted at further developments, indicating Netflix's commitment to becoming a prime destination for sports enthusiasts.

Mark Shapiro, TKO's President, lauded Netflix for seamlessly blending live sports programming with entertainment, describing the Raw deal as "transformative." He emphasized that the partnership expands WWE's reach and introduces appointment viewing to Netflix, positioning the streaming service alongside premium content offerings.

Raw, airing on Mondays, holds the distinction of being the top show on Comcast-owned USA Network, attracting 17.5 million unique viewers annually since its debut in 1993. The year-round nature of professional wrestling, unlike seasonal sports, contributes to its enduring popularity.

Shapiro anticipates that the Raw deal will significantly impact Netflix's ad-supported streaming service, known as AVOD, as the platform continues to build its presence in the industry. The current agreement with Comcast for Raw, valued at about $265 million annually, concludes this year. WWE's merger with Endeavor Group's UFC last year resulted in the formation of TKO Group Holdings, solidifying its position as a major player in wrestling and entertainment with a valuation of $21 billion.

Kindly like, share and leave your comment.