As streaming services hoard content in competition for eyeballs, NBCUniversal’s Peacock is coming off the top rope. Peacock will become the exclusive home to WWE Network’s content starting March 18, thanks to a multi-year deal announced Monday.
Live pay-per-view events, as well as original series and archival shows, will be available to Peacock Premium ($4.99/month) subscribers. WWE Network was previously its own service, costing $9.99 month. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Peacock EVP and chief revenue officer Rick Cordella said he had his eyes on the WWE Network since before Peacock launched midway through 2020. NBCUniversal has had a relationship with the pro wrestling outfit since 1993, and when CAA agent Nick Khan took over as WWE president and chief revenue officer in August, Cordella sent him a congratulatory text, adding, “We need to talk.”
The execs said April’s WrestleMania event added extra incentive to get the deal done now. In the run-up to the showdown, expect to see NBCUniversal throw its promotional weight behind the show. “We think we can really expand the audience,” Cordella said. Last week, NBC highlighted upcoming WWE dates on Football Night in America, providing a taste of what’s to come. NBC has one of the biggest marketing vehicles in American culture, the Super Bowl, in 2022.
“NBC is the best fit for us,” Khan said. “They understand our product and our audience and have the SVOD (subscription video on demand) platform to support it and drive eyeballs that way.” WWE Network averaged more than 1.5 million subscribers during 2020.
In the meantime, executives will continue negotiating to get Peacock on the Fire TV platform, where WWE Network was previously available to roughly half of the country’s streaming stick market. Cordella said he was “confident” a deal is coming. Even without Fire TV, Peacock has accrued more than 25 million subscribers, thanks in part to deals with cable providers like Cox and NBCU parent company Comcast.
While today’s announcement is independent from last week’s news that NBCSN will be shut down, Cordella said, it does emphasize the company’s attempt to grab sports fans with its offering. Peacock already delivers exclusive English Premier League action along with NFL simulcasts, golf and a collection of Olympic sports content.
“A key differentiator for us has been live events,” Cordella said.
(This story has been updated with details of WWE’s expected operating income in the second paragraph.)