It was recently confirmed that New Japan Pro Wrestling have signed a television deal with Roku in both the United States and United Kingdom.
In an update to that deal, NJPW reportedly turned down a deal from AXS TV and opted to go with Roku. New Japan was previously on the AXS TV network before the broadcaster purchased IMPACT Wrestling. AXS chose to emphasise their new wrestling content and there wasn’t a place for NJPW.
On the latest episode of Wrestling Observer Radio; Dave Meltzer confirmed that NJPW decided to go with Roku. The reasoning was that they felt the streaming brand was better in terms of ongoing company strategy. This strategy includes expanding more into the Western markets.
NJPW and Roku
The deal with Roku is not exclusive, meaning that New Japan can pursue a cable network deal down the line if they so wish. This would not have been the case with AXS TV and thus why NJPW opted to go with the streaming platform.
The NJPW Roku channel was launched on Thursday 11th February. New Japan Pro-Wrestling is a new one-hour weekly show that premieres Thursdays at 5pm (Eastern). Additional NJPW content from 2020 will also be available on-demand.
A press release at the NJPW website includes quotes from NJPW and Roku executives.
“Our fans in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom are among our most loyal, and they have been very clear that they want NJPW’s content made available to them,” said Takami Ohbari, President of NJPW. “NJPW is unlike any other pro-wrestling in the world. It is the most athletic, sports-oriented pro-wrestling on the planet, and we are excited to bring our athletes and matches to these markets in such a major way. Thank you to The Roku Channel, and we look forward to a successful partnership that brings NJPW to millions of new fans around the world.”