Last week, it was the announcement that NBC would be shutting down NBCSN by the end of 2021. That meant that the network’s NHL and Premier League coverage, as well as various other sports, would be spread between NBC Universal’s other entities, like USA Network. But the real goal seemed to be to get even more live content onto their streaming platform, Peacock. Because there can never be enough things to advertise the The Office on, apparently. Did you know it has every episode of The Office? If you don’t, they’re going to grab you for reeducation within the week.
Today news broke about Peacock gobbling up more of the entertainment world, with the announcement that it has absorbed the WWE Network. No longer will WWE have its own streaming platform, as now fans will have to go to Peacock to access PPVs, delayed broadcasts of NXT or Raw, as well as all the other content that used to be on WWE Network such as podcasts and originals and documentaries.
WWE has been itching to change or simply free itself of its network for a little bit anyway, as it provided a free version for the first time just a little while back. While the company will still be responsible for producing everything on its namesake network, the company will no longer need to worry about hosting it, nor having the sole responsibility of grabbing subscribers for it.
And that’s the attraction for NBC here as well. They will gain 1.2 million subscribers off the bat, or whatever chunk of those viewers didn’t already have Peacock Premium. And seeing as how the monthly cost for all WWE Network subscribers is going to drop 50 percent in price essentially to $4.99, there’s almost certainly going to be very few WWE fans giving up the subscription simply because it’s on NBC. They’ll get everything they did before, for less money. It’ll just be a different icon they have to click to get it.
WWE assuredly is also seeing the free advertising, with the eyes of those already signed up to Peacock getting a free look at WWE. WrestleMania is just around the corner, which is why NBC wanted this integration to take place in March, and that’s just the kind of event that even the most casual wrestling fan checks in on. And now it’s right there for something they already have.
It also didn’t hurt that NBC is reportedly chucking $1 billion at Vince McMahon for the deal over the next five years, essentially doubling the amount of money the company took in from WWE Network with one signature. Throw in the $200 million a year that WWE picked up from Fox for Smackdown in 2019, and you can see why Vince McMahon will never die. This all comes on top of WWE announcing its most successful year ever, financially at least, amid the pandemic.
While NBC has been late to the streaming platform game, it is simply gobbling up live-program options for it in ravenous fashion. It already has a raft of Premier League games on Peacock. By the end of the year it’s likely to add NHL games, and now wrestling PPVs. CBS only has Champions League on a streaming platform, while both will have some catching up to the galaxy of options on Disney/ESPN. But most of that is college sports or European soccer, and some other lower level sports, with some NHL and MLB on ESPN+.
As always, McMahon wins.