Netflix moves into live events with $6.7 billion buyout of WWE’s Raw

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Netflix took a big step into live events on Tuesday with a deal worth more than $6.7 billion (US$5 billion) that would make it the exclusive home of World Wrestling Entertainment’s series. Raw from January 2025.

The 10-year partnership will Raw on the streaming platform in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Latin America, among other territories, the companies said.

Outside of the United States, Netflix will also exclusively stream all WWE shows and specials, including Smack downas well as live pay-per-view events such as WrestleMania and Royal Rumble.

Raw debuted in 1993 and has produced 1,600 episodes to date, featuring wrestlers such as Cody Rhodes, Becky Lynch, Seth Rollins and Rhea Ripley. In the United States, the three-hour program is currently broadcast on USA Network.

World Wrestling Entertainment's (WWE) Otis and Chad Gable show their fists during a press briefing in Detroit, Michigan, ahead of SummerSlam at Ford Field on Saturday.
WWE’s Otis and Chad Gable while promoting a summer 2023 event in Detroit featuring the wrestlers, who often appear on the popular program Raw. (Nav Nanwa/CBC)

In Canada, Rogers Sportsnet is the primary WWE programming site. CBC News has contacted the Canadian telecommunications and media company for comment.

Media rights to programs such as Raw has become a hot commodity in recent months, particularly following wrestler CM Punk’s return to WWE in November, with widespread speculation over which network or streaming platform would reach him.

Speaking on CNBC on Tuesday, TKO Group CEO Ariel Emanuel said he doesn’t believe traditional TV or cable networks will move away, but that streaming platforms are becoming another option, as show them Raw dealing with Netflix.

“It’s streaming gaming. For us, it’s the next step,” Emanuel said.

Once the first five years are up, Netflix has the option to exit the deal early or extend it for another decade.

News of the deal sent shares of TKO Group Holdings, WWE’s parent company, up 21% in early trading Tuesday. Netflix shares remained stable; this company will release its latest results later today.

Agreement on “The Rock”

WWE also announced Tuesday that it has reached a deal with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson that will give the star the rights to his nickname.

Johnson will also join the TKO Group board of directors.

Speaking on CNBC, Johnson did not discuss the financial value of legally owning the rights to the name “The Rock” with WWE, but said it meant a lot to him personally.

“I owe everything to that name,” Johnson said. “Without that name, there would be no wrestling career. There would be no Hollywood career.”

Dwayne Johnson holds a microphone.
Dwayne Johnson has purchased the rights to his nickname “The Rock” from WWE and agreed to join the parent company’s board of directors. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Johnson, a film and wrestling star, has a business portfolio that includes his production company Seven Bucks Productions, Teremana Tequila distillery, energy drink company ZOA Energy, clothing brand Project Rock and the United Football League .

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