In a major streaming deal worth over $5 billion, WWE's weekly television show "Raw" will be moving to Netflix next year. The agreement, disclosed in a regulatory filing by TKO Group Holdings Inc., the parent company of WWE and UFC, is set for 10 years with an option for Netflix to extend it for another 10 years. Netflix will also have the option to opt out after the initial five years.
"Raw," which has been on the air since 1993 and has produced 1,600 episodes, currently airs on the USA Network. The program features popular wrestlers such as Cody Rhodes, Becky Lynch, Seth Rollins, and Rhea Ripley. The media rights for the show were highly sought after, especially after the return of CM Punk in November. Many speculated that it could land on various networks or streaming platforms.
Netflix's Chief Content Officer, Bela Bajaria, expressed excitement about having "Raw" on the platform, highlighting the show's large and passionate multigenerational fan base. WWE announced that "Raw" will start airing on Netflix in January 2025, impacting viewers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Latin America, and other territories. It is expected to expand to additional countries and regions over time.
Mark Shapiro, President and COO of TKO, described the deal as transformative, stating that it strengthens the media landscape, expands WWE's reach, and brings weekly live appointment viewing to Netflix. In addition to "Raw," WWE's documentaries, original series, and forthcoming projects will also be available internationally on Netflix from 2025.
This move follows WWE's announcement in September that its show "Friday Night Smackdown" will be moving from Fox to USA Network in 2024 under a new five-year domestic media rights partnership with NBCUniversal. As part of this agreement, WWE will produce four prime-time specials per year that will air on NBC, marking the first time WWE will be in prime time on the network.
TKO CEO Ariel Emanuel stated in an interview that he doesn't believe there is a shift away from traditional television or cable networks, but rather that streaming platforms are becoming another option. He referred to the Netflix deal as the next step in the streaming play for WWE.
In addition to the streaming deal, WWE also announced a separate agreement with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, granting him the rights to his nickname and appointing him to the board of TKO Group. This news resulted in TKO Group's shares surging over 19% in early trading.