WWE Network Shutting Down and Moving to NBC’s Peacock

WWE’s over the top streaming service in the United States is coming to an end as the WWE Network will migrate to NBC Peacock on March 18. Wall Street Journal reported the deal is valued at 1 billion over five years, equalling 200 million dollars a year.

In a television landscape where sports leagues are looking to sell the rights to their content, WWE sold their entire network. Along with Monday Night Raw airing on NBC owned USA, this move puts WWE firmly in the NBCUniversal portfolio for years to come.

Peacock’s roll-out of the WWE Network, beginning on March 18, will include all live pay-per-view events including WrestleMania, original programming like Steve Austin Broken Skull Sessions, in-ring content such as NXT, documentaries, and archive content, including every WWE, WCW, and ECW pay-per-view in history.

Per WWE’s press release, existing subscribers of the WWE Network will be migrated over to the ad-supported Peacock Premium for $4.99 per month or, for an ad-free experience, Peacock Premium Plus will be available for $9.99 per month. Comcast/Xfinity customers get Peacock Premium for free.

In light of this news, I played around with Peacock service. They currently carry The Monday Night War series, which has commercials. However, there are no commercials if you watch the same show on the WWE Network.

The two 55 minute episodes I watched had six commercial breaks that lasted 45 seconds with a timer counting down in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. Honestly, It didn’t bother me like I thought it would.

WWE Network’s 1.2 million domestic subscribers will join the 26 million subscribers on Peacock, giving WWE even more exposure to a wider streaming audience.

Subscribers will get everything on the network in addition to all of the Peacock programming such as The Office, Saved by the Bell, Departure, A.P. Bio, Premier League, and more.

WWE Network, becoming exclusive to Peacock, answers several questions and brings up new ones.

Financially, WWE grossed approximately over 143-million dollars in 2020, running the network. Now, they’re getting 200 million a year for NBC to run the network for them.

WWE recently added Fastlane, scheduled for March 21, to their pay-view-calendar, without any notice or fanfare. Now we know why, as the show will usher in the Peacock era of WWE. It’s a good idea for NBC to test the waters of their first live WWE event with Fastlane to work out the kinks before WrestleMania.

For the second straight year, WrestleMania will be held over two nights on April 10 and April 11. The last thing Peacock needs is for WWE’s flagship show to have technical issues coming out of the gate. Fastlane decreases the likelihood of such an occurrence.

Last week, NBCUniversal announced the shuttering of NBC Sports with several of their sports properties moving to USA, including NASCAR and NHL. Speculation around this deal suggested it was bad news for WWE.

Decreasing ratings for both Raw and NXT could have meant preempted shows for more prestigious sports content. The Peacock deal confirms that NBC considers WWE prestige programming.

On the other hand, things could be different for NXT. WWE’s press release specifically listed NXT as a network offering and not a replay showing. On Wednesday nights, episodes of NXT that aired unopposed drew far better ratings than when they regularly go up head to head against AEW Dynamite.

Making NXT an exclusive Peacock offering or moving it to a different night on USA would be a positive for both the WWE brand and All Elite Wrestling on TNT.

In the press releases and interviews today, Peacock’s chief revenue officer Rick Cordella called WrestleMania a “cornerstone of the Peacock service,” suggesting a big promotional push for the event this spring.

WWE will have a lot of pressure to live up to the hype. Not only do they have to knock it out of the park with WrestleMania, but they also have to do the same with Fastlane.

If Fastlane is good, imagine how amazing WrestleMania will be? That is the message WWE needs to send with Peacock’s first show. Fastlane will essentially be an infomercial for WrestleMania, setting up many of the show’s big matches.

As for WrestleMania, my prediction will upset a lot of wrestling diehards. WWE is going all out. That means it will be loaded with star power. Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, Ronda Rousey, Undertaker, The Rock, Triple H, John Cena, among others, are getting offers to work the “granddaddy of them all.”

If even half of that list agrees to work WrestleMania, that means fewer opportunities for those wrestlers on the roster who work all year round. Part-time wrestlers getting booked over full-time talent has been a sore subject for a fair amount of people. The importance of this year’s Mania is paramount, which means the complaints will loud.

The Wrestling Observer reported over the weekend that none of the big matches are set for WrestleMania, which is a departure from year’s past. The rumored plan calls for two big matches to highlight each night.

I find a lot of credence to this rumor.

The winner of the Royal Rumble match gets a title shot in the main event of WrestleMania. Normally, it’s pretty easy to figure who is going to win the Rumble. This year, it’s anybody’s guess. Unfortunately, the mystery is not by design.

While SmackDown has been fantastic since Roman Reigns returned last August as a newly minted heel, Raw has been creatively bankrupt for the last six months. The 50/50 odds here do not apply. Raw is the A. show of the company and steers the ship in terms of storytelling and match making

Seven years ago, the launch of the WWE Network changed the way fans watch wrestling. It also changed the way WWE booked their shows as the reliance on pay-per-view buys became irrelevant.

Some feel it improved the product because it helped wrestlers who normally wouldn’t get the opportunity to thrive. Others believe the company took its hands off the creative steering wheel and became complacent.

Now, WWE has evolved the way they offer streaming content. They’re getting paid handsomely for the network, with NBC doing most of the work. I’m cautiously optimistic that WWE will use the momentum of this upcoming new era to their advantage.

While the history of complacency could repeat itself, WWE is now serving two masters. The audience and NBCUnivesial. More engaging content is a must if WWE wants to resign another billion-dollar deal in five years.

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