Updated Jan 23, 2024, 08:47am EST
Netflix acquired the rights to air WWE’s popular weekly wrestling program “Raw,” the company announced Tuesday morning, marking the streaming giant’s first significant foray into sports programming.
WWE’s Royal Rumble.Getty Images
Starting next January, Netflix will exclusively stream “Raw” in the U.S. and abroad and air the wrestling circuit’s other major weekly program, “Smackdown,” and pay-per-view events outside of the U.S.
The deal is worth $5 billion over 10 years, according to several outlets.
Shares of Netflix climbed 2% following the announcement, while shares of WWE parent TKO Group rose more than 20%.
Netflix now joins fellow technology investor darlings Amazon and Apple in the live sports space. Amazon Prime inked a $1.2 billion per-year deal with the NFL to air Thursday night games beginning in 2022, and Apple struck a $250 million per-year deal with the MLS and an $85 million per-year pact with the MLB to broadcast exclusive games. WWE’s focus on drama and storylines seemingly reflects Netflix’s existing strategy with sports content, which previously included in-house documentaries like “Drive To Survive” following Formula One drivers and “Quarterback” following NFL stars. Media rights fees drive a majority of WWE’s revenues. “Raw” currently airs on USA Network, a subsidiary of Comcast’s NBCUniversal. WWE, which was an independently traded public company from 1999 until last year, was recently acquired by UFC parent Endeavor, forming TKO Group.
What To Watch For
Netflix, the world’s most valuable entertainment-first company, will report fourth-quarter and full-year financial results Tuesday afternoon. Analysts project Netflix to disclose its most profitable year ever.
In a separate Tuesday announcement, TKO Group nominated former wrestler and actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to its board of directors. Johnson is among the highest-paid celebrities in the world, and his $270 million in annual gross earnings placed him fourth on Forbes’ 2022 list of top-earning entertainers.
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