WWE and Netflix: The Ultimate Tag Team


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A Smack Down on the World of Streaming

The world of professional wrestling is about to undergo a seismic shift. In a groundbreaking deal announced in January 2024, WWE, the global leader in sports entertainment, is set to migrate its flagship program, Monday Night Raw, to the streaming giant Netflix in January 2025.

This move signifies a bold step for both parties, with the potential to reshape the landscape of wrestling entertainment and redefine audience engagement. But why is this such a big deal? In this article, Hollywood Branded pulls back the curtain on why the new partnership between the WWE and Netflix could make them the ultimate tag team in the streaming wars.

WWE and Netflix the Ultimate Tag Team

A New Era in live streaming sports 

To understand this latest seismic shift, it’s important to understand how we got here. With the rise of WWE as the leader in professional wrestling/sports entertainment in the 80s and 90s, USA Network became their home for much of their original programming. While highlights were still run on syndicated networks across the country, USA was where fans got the newest action. WWE programming resided on USA for decades with their biggest programs being WWF Prime Time Wrestling and then Monday Night Raw. Eventually, the syndicated show disappeared and those without cable, or cord-cutters, had limited accessibility and viewers in regions with limited cable options were sometimes out of luck.

Fans of WWE and WCW (World Championship Wrestling) only had USA Network or TNT, respectively, to watch professional wrestling and during the peak of the “Monday Night Wars” which saw both these companies pulling out all the stops for ratings, WWE made a huge splash with the debut of WWE Smackdown which debuted in 1999 on the UPN Network. Finally, there was professional wrestling back on a broadcast network. Eventually, WCW was ultimately purchased by WWE and to this day Raw still airs on cable and Smackdown still on broadcast and while there are many more ways to access WWE programming now than in the past, there are still many hurdles when it comes to international markets. That’s where Netflix can change the game.

Netflix boasts a massive global subscriber base with a focus on on-demand content. This shift opens the door for a wider audience to experience the spectacle of professional wrestling. Fans who previously couldn't access WWE content can now tune in with ease, potentially leading to a significant surge in viewership. This expanded reach could introduce a whole new generation to the world of WWE, ensuring the longevity of the industry and a large increase in revenue.


Photo 304695492 © Rafael Henrique | Dreamstime.com

the Streaming Revolution means a Content Evolution

WWE programming isn't just about live matches. It's a complex tapestry woven with storylines, rivalries, and character development. The limitations of cable television often restrict the depth and nuance that can be explored within these narratives. Netflix's flexible platform offers a unique opportunity for WWE to experiment with storytelling formats. We might see longer-form content, documentary-style series delving into the lives of wrestlers, or even interactive elements that allow fans to influence the narrative. WWE has shown success with long form content through its partnerships with both Peacock and A&E Networks but those features tend to be biographical or historical storytelling centered around the man or woman behind the character. The creative freedom Netflix brings could lead to a richer viewing experience, diving deeper into character development and fostering deeper connections between fans and wrestlers.

Global DOmination

WWE boasts a passionate fanbase worldwide. However, the reach of cable television varies greatly across different regions. Netflix's global presence offers an unparalleled platform for WWE to tap into international markets. The deal ensures access to WWE content for fans in territories where cable penetration is low. This not only expands the audience but also opens doors for international superstars to gain a wider following, truly living up to the "global" in "global entertainment." We have seen the international success WWE talent can have outside of the ring. Hulk Hogan, Sgt. Slaughter, Andre The Giant, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, John Cena, and Stone Cold Steve Austin all were able to expand to become pop culture names that even someone who has never watched a minute of wrestling programming immediately recognizes. This international expansion via Netflix opens the door for even more talent to grow into other forms of entertainment and stardom.

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The growth of the live event

While Raw will be transitioning to Netflix, WWE's live events, like WrestleMania and SummerSlam, will remain separate for now. WWE has a content deal with Peacock for these “Pay Per View” events through March of 2026 but only in the US. In all other international markets, these big events will also move to Netflix and one can likely assume Netflix will take these over once their Peacock deal expires. The Netflix partnership could have a positive impact on all WWE live events. The company certainly has no issue selling out flagship events like WrestleMania but increased viewership on Netflix could translate into a heightened interest in live shows, potentially leading to more sold-out arenas and a more vibrant live event scene. Conversely, the WWE fanbase is devoted and passionate. WWE moving programming onto the platform will likely attract large amounts of new viewers to Netflix which could lead to discovery of more Netflix programming and creating a symbiotic relationship between the two entities.


Photo 237313288 © Auncha mee | Dreamstime.com

Redefining The Revenue Stream

The financial implications of this move are significant. While details haven't been publicly disclosed, the deal is estimated to be worth over $5 billion. This guaranteed revenue stream provides WWE with financial stability and the resources needed to further develop its programming. We also don’t know yet how advertising will play into Netflix’s plans for this programming. Will fans be met with a commercial-less program providing more of the feel of a live event or could Netflix introduce advertising opportunities within the live stream of Raw, which wouldn't have been possible on traditional cable television? The unknowns aside, the terms of this deal create a more sustainable financial model for WWE and the increase in subscribers for Netflix which should all pave the way for future growth and innovation.

Challenges and Considerations

Of course, such a significant shift isn't without its challenges. So far, Netflix has only dabbled in live programming and have certainly had their hiccups. While their live Christ Rock comedy special and the 2024 Screen Actors Guild awards went well, when Netflix aired a live Love Is Blind reunion show in April of 2023, they ultimately had to postpone the airing due to what Netflix called “a bug” that caused no one to be able to watch. The hurdles for live programming against internet bandwidth restrictions still have a ways to go to be perfect so Netflix likely will be working on improving whatever they can before Monday Night Raw makes its move.

Raw on NetflixCourtesy of WWE on Instagram

Like a CLothesline off the top rope, there is always risk

WWE's move to Netflix is a bold gamble with the potential to revolutionize the professional wrestling industry. The increased accessibility, creative freedom, and global reach offered by the streaming giant presents an unprecedented opportunity for growth. It also could provide new avenues for brands to integrate into WWE programming. Thus far, brands have been seen almost exclusively as sponsors but with so many new international eyeballs likely getting onto Monday Night Raw, there lies a huge potential to have brands more seamlessly woven into character’s backgrounds and storylines.This partnership could usher in a new golden age for WWE, attracting a wider audience, fostering deeper connections with fans, and solidifying its position as the premier destination for sports entertainment on a global scale. As John Cena famously declared, "The time is now!" And with this move to Netflix, WWE seems poised to seize the moment and propel itself into the future.

Eager To Learn More?

If this exploration into the partnership between WWE and Netflix has sparked your interest, check out these additional articles from the Hollywood Branded team.

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