Netflix looks to body slam its competition

Just when you thought streaming news had quieted down, something seismic happened. To misquote legendary WWE announcer Jim Ross, “Bah gawd, that’s Netflix’s music!”

What happened: Netflix inked a 10-year deal to become the official broadcaster of Monday Night Raw, paying the WWE US$500 million a year for the rights to its flagship weekly live wrestling show. The deal starts in 2025 and will cover several countries including Canada.

  • The streamer also gets international rights to other WWE properties, including the weekly live show SmackDown and marquee annual events like WrestleMania.
  • Netflix can bail on the deal halfway through or, if the streamer and the WWE become the best tag team since Edge and Christian, extend it by another 10 years. 

Why it’s happening: Spandex-clad musclemen fighting might seem silly to some of you, but for millions of global fans, it’s real, damn it. It’s also very lucrative, which is why UFC parent company Endeavor paid $9.3 billion for the WWE last year and why Netflix wants a piece, too.  

Why it matters: As the streamer with the most subscribers and the only one to actually turn a profit, Netflix has definitively won the streaming war — at least in its current form. As the industry shifts its focus more to live events, Netflix is moving to ensure that it isn’t left behind.  

  • Earlier this week, we wrote about how competitors are pushing aggressively into live sports, which command eyeballs and ad dollars, and breaking records in the process.

  • In addition to more live events, Netflix is slowing on scripted originals, releasing fewer new shows and films than ever before compared to competitors last quarter.

Bottom line: Netflix is hoping to keep the good times rolling into 2024. Last quarter, it exceeded revenue projections and absolutely smashed projected subscriber growth.—QH