WWE President & Chief Financial Officer Nick Khan recently spoke with Tony Maglio and Jennifer Maas of The Wrap to discuss the new multi-year deal between WWE and NBCUniversal, which will see Peacock become the new exclusive home of the WWE Network in the United States, beginning Thursday, March 18. Khan said the new deal will not result in any change to WWE SmackDown airing on FOX.
It was noted that the new WWE Network deal makes for an even deeper alliance between NBCU and WWE, which has been going for almost 30 years. NBCU owns the USA Network, which airs WWE NXT and the USA Network each week. Khan was asked what the new deal means for the future of SmackDown on FOX. He said WWE is confident and happy with the FOX relationship.
“We’re confident and happy with our Fox/’SmackDown’ relationship, which still has multiple years left on it. So nothing has changed in that arena,” Khan said.
Khan was also asked how the new WWE Network – Peacock deal specifically benefits WWE, and if it’s merely a cost-cutting move so WWE no longer has to host and maintain their own service.
“No, so here’s what it is,” Khan said. “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.”
Peacock Chief Revenue Officer Rick Cordella was also interviewed by The Wrap, and asked about the new WWE Network price points on Peacock. As noted, the service on Peacock will run $4.99 with ads, or $9.99 for the ad-free version. The WWE Network currently costs $9.99 per month. Cordella was asked if the price points will increase over time, and if he has a schedule in mind for an increase.
“So right now, we have no plans to increase the price of the $4.99 tier,” Cordella responded. “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.”
Cordella was also asked about WWE Network subscribers who use Amazon Fire devices, what the availability on Amazon will be moving forward, and if this WWE Network deal might change anything with the Peacock – Amazon negotiations.
“We’re in negotiations with Amazon right now, as we have been,” Cordella said. “Those are productive conversations and the hope is that we have a deal soon. But I don’t have anything to report today.”
Stay tuned for more.