Within a span of just over 48 hours, Peacock — the streaming service owned by NBC Universal that launched last spring — suddenly became a must-subscribe proposition for two different rabid groups: Soccer fans, and wrestling fans.
First, Comcast and NBC Universal announced last Friday that it was shuttering the NBC Sports Network, which has been the primary home for English Premier League soccer since NBC got its rights in 2012. Some of the existing sports programming on NBCSN, including soccer, hockey, and NASCAR, will move to the USA Network and other Comcast-owned networks, while other games will be shunted off to Peacock, which has already become the streaming home for much of NBC’s weekly soccer schedule.
Then, on Monday, NBC made an even bigger announcement: That NBC Universal had reached a deal to, effectively, fold WWE Network into Peacock. The change will take place on March 18, when WWE Network’s programming will jump to Peacock.
Terms were not disclosed, but the Wall Street Journal put the price tag of the deal at over $1 billion, over five years. That’s money that WWE, which hasn’t been able to run live events with fans since the pandemic began, could surely use. WWE’s market cap is just over $4 billion.
WWE Network has been independent since it was launched in 2014, and it offered all of the company’s annual pay-per-view events (which used to cost $60) for the overall subscription price of $9.99 a month. In addition, the network offered (and continues to offer) thousands of hours of archival footage from wrestling history, appearing to wrestling fans who love the matches and wrestlers of their youth, even if they’re not fans of the current stuff. The network also offers documentaries, reality shows, and other programming.
The move to Peacock means that WWE fans can pay less, the $4.99-a-month price for Peacock Premium, than they currently do for WWE Network, although the ad-free Peacock Premium Plus is $9.99. As for Peacock, they’ll have a chance to gain significant subscribers from the ranks of WWE die-hards. WWE Network has 1.1 million subscribers, per Variety.
“We are thrilled to further the long-standing and trusted partnership WWE has with NBCUniversal,” Nick Khan, WWE President, and Chief Revenue Officer, said in the press release. “Peacock is an innovative platform that will enable us to showcase our most significant events, including WrestleMania, and provide the extraordinary entertainment our fans have come to expect with the combination of premium WWE content, live sports, news, films, and television programs.”
WWE has had a relationship with NBC Universal going back years. Its signature TV series, RAW, has aired on USA for most of its history, and before that, WWE ran Saturday Night’s Main Event and The Main Event specials on NBC, back in the 1980s.
In addition to wrestling and soccer, Peacock is also the home of The Office and Parks and Recreation, as well as the archive of Saturday Night Live. It also recently had a hit with the reboot of Saved by the Bell, which was picked up for a second season.