WWE’s viewers have jumped off the top turnbuckle as 3.5 million paying subscribers watched WWE programming on Peacock, according to WWE President Nick Khan during the company’s 4Q earnings call.
Last year, WWE and Peacock agreed to a 5-year deal worth more than $1 billion to make Peacock the exclusive streaming home of the WWE Network. Now that the company is over a year into the deal, “more people are watching WWE premium live events than ever before,” Khan said.
Outside of attracting new viewers, the Peacock move has generated “favorable economics” compared to the company’s previous subscription model, according to WWE’s Chief Financial and Administrative Officer Frank Riddick. While comparing the Peacock pairing to the company’s prior model, Riddick said the following:
Importantly, since transitioning to Peacock, network viewership of our premium live events has increased 42% from the prior performance on what was our direct-to-consumer network service
WWE’s premium live events include Big Four PPVs such as the Royal Rumble, SummerSlam, Wrestlemania, and Survivor Series. There were 5 events streamed during the summer and fall of 2021, which the wrestling promotion increased their audience between 20% to 75% each when compared to the 2019 pre-pandemic editions that were hosted on WWE Network, according to Khan.
Before the switch to Peacock, WWE Network was established in 2014 as a direct-to-consumer streaming service for $10 per month. 1.5 million people subscribed to the service, which gave them access to original WWE programming, live events, classics from the WWE vault for no additional charge. After integrating to Peacock, subscribers still have access to everything aforementioned, and everything Peacock Premium has to offer, but at a reduced price of $5 per month for most subscribers. Some subscribers get access to WWE Network on Peacock via bundles with pay-TV or broadband packages.
Last week, Peacock announced that it had 9 million subscribers to its premium tier, while 7 million are subscribed through a Comcast bundle, or with another pay-TV subscriber. For WWE, this partnership is a fruitful one because it could potentially triple the number of eyeballs that can watch their programming by the end of the year.
The Peacock move was the first in the company’s long-term plans of hosting WWE content on larger streaming platforms. Recently, WWE teamed up with Disney to make Disney+ Hotstar the home of WWE Network in Indonesia. Terms of that deal were not disclosed but it is a multi-year agreement.
Riddick gave more insight into how the company views its future reach in international markets:
We believe our long-term outlook is supported by the rising value of live sports content, increasing spend by streaming platforms on live and sports to retain and acquire customers, increasing brand spend with media companies that deliver reach and fan engagement and increasing premium for celebrities and hit content, fueling new IP monetization opportunities and the growth of media and entertainment in international markets.
WWE’s contract with Hulu expires later this year, Peacock is among the possible bidders. In 2019, WWE began a five-year TV deal for WWE Raw on USA Network, and WWE SmackDown on Fox worth over $2 billion combined.
When asked if broadcast or streaming will be the way to go when those deals are up for renewal, Khan stated that he’s “extremely pleased” with the company’s partnerships and compared the Fox and USA Network shows to the promotion’s “regular season.” Khan later explained that people pay for the premium content on streaming services, where the company’s Premium Live Events live on Peacock, and the WWE’s Super Bowl, Wrestlemania will be there to stream, and “we’ll see where we are on the next rights deal.”
The WWE Universe can check out the full schedule of 2022 Premium Live Events which will be streaming on Peacock before WWE Elimination Chamber takes place live from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on February 19.