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Netflix and WWE Live Streaming Rights: A Game-Changer for the Entertainment Industry

The global streaming giant Netflix known for its extensive library of on-demand movies, TV shows, and original programming, has now entered the live streaming arena after acquiring the rights for WWE Raw for $5 billion. As part of the agreement Netflix will become the home for all WWE shows and specials outside the U.S. Netflix has become synonymous with the era of binge-watching. However, it’s clear that they have recognised the evolving demands of viewers and the increasing importance of live content. 

WWE Raw is pro-wrestling’s most popular weekly show. The programme has been shown on broadcast TV around the world for 31 years. “The show is currently the No. 1 show on USA Network, where it brings in 17.5m unique viewers over the course of the year in the US”. WWE also has a huge social presence with 1 billion followers across various social media platforms. 

The deal is set to go live from next year for the next 10 years.

The deal is interesting because Netflix started experimenting with live streaming only last year when they teamed up with Chris Rock for a hilarious stand up set. Netflix’s first big swing when it comes to live sports programming was The Netflix Cup, an event held in Las Vegas that sees Formula 1 drivers teaming up with PGA Tour pros that see them competing on the green in rather wacky challenges. Now with this WWE Raw deal, Netflix will be live streaming every Monday for the next 10 years.

Netflix was amongst many streaming platforms that had bided for the WWE Raw rights. Platforms such as Disney+, Amazon Prime etc.. WWE Raw decided to go with Netflix due to their reach and multigenerational fan base. 

“We believe Netflix, as one of the world’s leading entertainment brands, is the ideal long-term home for Raw’s live, loyal, and ever-growing fan base.” Nick Khan, WWE President

Netflix’s deal for Raw covers “the US, Canada, UK, and Latin America, among other territories, with additional countries and regions to be added over time.” WWE handles the production of its shows in-house, and after decades on the air, Raw is a well-oiled machine in that regard. So Netflix will only have to worry about streaming whatever feed WWE sends its way. 

The recent move to secure live streaming rights, especially in collaboration with WWE, is a bold step for Netflix. It signifies the company’s intent to diversify its offerings and capture a broader audience that craves the excitement and immediacy of live events. As Netflix ventures into the live streaming arena, this intensifies competition in the streaming space. This allows Netflix to engage viewers in real-time, fostering a sense of community and shared experiences. 

This interactivity is a departure from the traditional model of streaming platforms and adds a new layer of engagement for subscribers. We’ve seen the likes of Amazon prime do this with acquiring the broadcast rights of NFL via Thursday Night Football, and 20 live Premier League football matches. Apple TV is also now in the live streaming arena with the Major League Soccer Pass.

As Netflix expands its horizons beyond on-demand content, and WWE leverages the global reach of the streaming giant, the partnership marks a game-changing moment in the entertainment industry. Netflix, a trailblazer in the streaming industry, has been at the forefront of changing how audiences consume content and is now looking to expand their offerings, I wonder what next sport broadcasting rights they’re looking to acquire. Imagine the Premier League on Netflix?

By: Subomi Odanye

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