Netflix has made its first major move into live events by acquiring exclusive rights to Raw and other programming from World Wrestling Entertainment.
Starting in January 2025, Raw will be available on Netflix in the US, Canada, Latin America, and other international markets after WWE’s domestic deal with Comcast expires. Netflix will also become the exclusive home outside the US for all WWE shows and specials, including Smackdown and NXT, as well as pay-per-view live events like Wrestlemania, SummerSlam, and Royal Rumble. These pay-per-view events will be included at no additional cost for Netflix customers.
Netflix, known for offering films and TV shows on-demand, has now committed to offering three hours of live wrestling a week starting next year. This move is expected to attract millions of loyal WWE viewers and boost Netflix’s fledgling advertising-supported plan. Over the last year, Netflix has been airing a live comedy special and a golf match, but this is the first long-term rights deal.
While the WWE isn’t exactly a sport, most of the storylines are scripted, it draws a consistent live audience akin to a sporting event. Raw is the most watched of the WWE’s programmes, attracting about 1.5 million viewers per show. The company debuted in 1993 and has been the training ground for future movie stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and John Cena.
The WWE is the latest major live event to shift from cable TV to streaming. Ultimate Fighting Championship, which TKO Group Holdings also owns, offers many of its matches on ESPN+, while the National Football League sold Amazon.com the rights to Thursday Night Football. A playoff game on Comcast’s Peacock just delivered the largest streaming audience for any professional sports event in the US.
“This partnership fundamentally alters and strengthens the media landscape, dramatically expands the reach of WWE, and brings weekly live appointment viewing to Netflix,” said Mark Shapiro, TKO’s president. The company also licenses the rights to WWE’s documentaries and original series. TKO has secured long-term deals for its biggest properties and will negotiate its next deal for the UFC in 2025.