In an interview with the Wrap, WWE President Nick Khan spoke about the big announcement from earlier today that the WWE Network will become part of NBC’s Peacock service starting in March. Here are highlights:
On how the deal benefits WWE: “No, so here’s what it is. Vince McMahon and the WWF, at the time, were the first movers from closed circuit to pay-per-view in the early ’80s, the first mover in the sports/entertainment space, outside of Netflix, to the SVOD model in 2014, and we believe the first mover, again, in this deal to partner with a massive conglomerate that has significant reach, in order to serve our fans and expand our audience.
So I’ll give you an example: Peacock is free in the [24 million] Comcast cable and Cox cable homes, as I’m sure you know, so…for the first time ever, WrestleMania, which is our Super Bowl, is going to be available for free to those homes. In addition to that, it cuts the cost for our consumers from $9.99 a month for WWE Network to $4.99 a month on the ad-supported tier of Peacock, where they’ll get not only WWE but EPL (English Premier League), “The Office,” Dick Wolf and so many other titles.”
On if the deal is tied to the loss of live event revenue: “It wasn’t a consideration. We expect that we’re going to have fans at WrestleMania in a couple of months and expect that, when it can safely come back — above and beyond partial capacity — we’ll be one of the first ones to go. Keep in mind also, our events are typically priced fan-friendly, so that loss was not a deciding factor in this deal.”
On if there’s a schedule to increase the prices: “So right now, we have no plans to increase the price of the $4.99 tier. Of course, I can’t predict the future, but that’s not something that’s in our immediate plans. The overarching reason that we’re doing this, and Nick sort of mentioned it, is that we believe there’s a larger WWE audience that exists. You see it on USA Network on “Raw,” you see it on “SmackDown” with Fox. And then you take the best content that WWE produces each year, these pay-per-views, and they tend — because it’s on the WWE Network and for a monthly fee at $9.99 — it tends to be a smaller audience.
So our overall goal, and why I think NBCU decided to move forward with this deal, is that we believe we can expand the accessibility of this content, right? That we can — through NBCU marketing, through the outlets that we have, all the various media outlets, through the price point reduction, through the addition of content — that we can grow this audience significantly that currently watched it. And that will have downstream impact to the rest of WWE and those TV ratings, hopefully, that you see on linear television, as well as to Peacock. There is a halo effect to those users coming in for WrestleMania, but then sticking around and watching “The Office,” watching “Yellowstone,” watching some of the great content we have in the 30,000 hours that are now bundled in with their subscription price.”