WWE’s weekly television show “Raw” will move to Netflix next year as part of a major streaming deal worth more than $5 billion.
TKO Group Holdings Inc., which houses WWE and UFC, said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday that the agreement is for 10 years, with Netflix having an option to extend the deal for an additional 10 years. There’s also an opt out available to Netflix after the initial five years.
“Raw,” which debuted in 1993, has produced 1,600 episodes to date and features wrestlers such as Cody Rhodes, Becky Lynch, Seth Rollins and Rhea Ripley. The three-hour program currently airs on USA Network and its media rights were considered a hot commodity over the past several months, particularly after the WWE return of CM Punk in November, with many speculating it could land at any number of networks or streaming platforms.
“We are excited to have WWE Raw, with its huge and passionate multigenerational fan base, on Netflix,” Chief Content Officer Bela Bajaria said in a prepared statement.
WWE said Tuesday that “Raw” will air on Netflix starting in January 2025. This will impact viewers in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Latin America and other territories. WWE said that it will also impact additional countries and regions over time.
“This deal is transformative,” Mark Shapiro, TKO president and COO, said in a prepared statement. “It marries the can’t-miss WWE product with Netflix’s extraordinary global reach and locks in significant and predictable economics for many years. Our partnership fundamentally alters and strengthens the media landscape, dramatically expands the reach of WWE, and brings weekly live appointment viewing to Netflix.”
WWE also said that its documentaries, original series and forthcoming projects will be available on Netflix internationally starting in 2025.
The move of “Raw” to Netflix follows the announcement in September by World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. that “Friday Night Smackdown,” would be moving from Fox to USA Network in 2024 under a new five-year domestic media rights partnership with NBCUniversal. As part of the agreement, WWE will also produce four prime-time specials per year that will air on NBC, starting in the 2024/2025 season. This will be the first time that WWE will air on the network in prime time.
Speaking on CNBC, TKO CEO Ariel Emanuel said that he didn’t believe there’s a move away from traditional television networks or cable networks, but that streaming platforms were becoming another option, as seen through its “Raw” deal with Netflix.
“This is the streaming play. For us, it’s the next step,” he said.
WWE also announced Tuesday that it reached a deal with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson that will give the star the rights to his nickname. Johnson will also join the board of TKO Group.
Shares of TKO Group jumped more than 19% in early trading.