WWE Wrestling Heads to Peacock in Streaming Deal

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NBCUniversal’s new streaming video service, Peacock, is adding pay-per-view wrestling to its expanding roster of sports programming, a move that could attract an influx of paying subscribers who follow the sport.

Starting March 18, Peacock will be the exclusive streaming home of the WWE Network, an online video service owned by the professional-wrestling company World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal said in a statement Monday. Peacock will air WWE’s pay-per-view events, including WrestleMania and SummerSlam, as well as shows, documentaries and library programming.

Peacock, which launched nationwide in July, is free and supported by advertising. But consumers can also buy a $4.99-a-month plan, with more movies, shows and live sports, and a $9.99 plan with the added content and no commercials. In early December, Peacock had about 26 million sign-ups.

WWE Network will be available on Peacock’s premium tier, which costs $5 less than what WWE Network has charged wrestling fans for full access. WWE also still produces live shows that air on the television networks USA, also part of Comcast, and Fox, owned by Fox Corp.

NBC has been adding more sports programming to Peacock, a move that could distinguish it in a crowded market of streaming services. Last week, NBC announced it was shutting down its cable sports channel, NBCSN, and moving some of that programming to Peacock. Earlier this month, Peacock streamed a NFL Wild Card Playoff game. Peacock also broadcasts niche sports like speed skating and off-road motorcycle racing.

The multiyear deal also underscores the challenge of surviving with a narrowly focused streaming product. WWE said in October that the streaming service, launched in 2014, had 1.6 million paid subscribers. It had been losing subscribers until last quarter, which marked its first quarterly subscriber increase in more than a year.

Separately Monday, WWE said it expects adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization for 2021 of $270 million to $305 million.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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