Netflix buys rights to WWE Raw, other shows in live streaming push

Netflix on Tuesday said it will soon be home to the WWE’s most-watched wrestling show, as part of a multibillion-dollar deal that will throw the company into the ring of live sports. 

The streaming giant is acquiring the rights to WWE Raw in a $5 billion deal to be paid out over 10 years, as the wrestling group’s contract with Comcast nears its expiration, Bloomberg reported. The series will begin airing on Netflix in January 2025, and will be available to subscribers in North America and other international markets. WWE is part of TKO Group Holdings.

“Our partnership…dramatically expands the reach of WWE, and brings weekly live appointment viewing to Netflix,” TKO President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Shapiro said Wednesday in a statement. 

Under the deal, Netflix will also stream WWE specials such as Smackdown and NXT, in addition to hosting pay-per-view live events, such as Wrestlemania and Royal Rumble. Pay-per-view content will be available to Netflix subscribers at no extra charge.

Also part of the agreement is a stipulation that grants wrestling star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson the legal rights to his stage name. He has also been named a TKO Group board member. 

Shares of TKO Group jumped more than 19% in early trading.

Netflix is a comparatively late entrant to growing business of live-streaming sporting events. Its push to build out its live sports offerings comes less than a year after the company aired its first live sports event, The Netflix Cup, a golf tournament in 2023. 

Airing live sports events is expected to become an increasingly lucrative business for streaming services, offering more opportunities to rake in advertising dollars. The number of viewers who stream sports events at least once a month is projected to rise to more than 90 million by 2025, up roughly 58% from 57 million in 2021, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers. 

— The Associated Press contributed reporting. 

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