WWE Raw moving to Netflix in massive $5 billion deal changes how pro wrestling fans will access WWE in the U.S. and worldwide

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor


WWE Raw is leaving linear cable television for the first time in its history beginning next January, moving from USA Network to the streaming service Netflix. The deal is being described by WWE and Netflix as “a long-term deal.” The deal is structured to last ten years with Netflix paying rights fees of $5 billion over that period, or on average $500 million per year.

The deal gives Netflix an option to extend another ten years or opt out after five years, according to a New York Times article citing a TKO Group regulatory filing.

“This deal is transformative,” said Mark Shapiro, president and COO of TKO, the parent company of WWE. “It marries the can’t-miss WWE product with Netflix’s extraordinary global reach and locks in significant and predictable economics for many years. Our partnership fundamentally alters and strengthens the media landscape, dramatically expands the reach of WWE, and brings weekly live appointment viewing to Netflix.”

The deal encompasses the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Latin America, among other territories, with expectations that other countries and regions will be added over time.

“We are excited to have WWE Raw, with its huge and passionate multi-generational fan base, on Netflix,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer, Bela Bajaria. “By combining our reach, recommendations, and fandom with WWE, we’ll be able to deliver more joy and value for their audiences and our members. Raw is the best of sports entertainment, blending great characters and storytelling with live action 52 weeks a year and we’re thrilled to be in this long-term partnership with WWE.”

Raw launched 31 years ago on USA Network and soon became WWE’s flagship weekly program, overtaking the WWF Superstars syndicated show as the primary vehicle to promote their pay-per-view events. Raw also brought live pro wrestling back to national television. Although it moved cable networks in the 2000s, it returned to USA Network. USA Network will still be a long-term home of WWE programming, as beginning late this year, WWE Smackdown moves to USA Network from Fox.

Netflix provides WWE fans a chance to watch a WWE flagship program live each week without subscribing to a cable or streaming service that carries USA Network. Netflix’s U.S. subscriber base is around 77 million, up from 27 million in 2013. It is available in around 240 million homes worldwide. USA Network is currently available in around 72 million homes in the U.S., so WWE will expand its reach for Raw with this move. USA Network has been losing homes over time while Netflix has been on a largely upward trajectory.

Netflix will also carry WWE’s special programming for viewers outside of the United States, including WrestleMania, Summerslam, the Royal Rumble, WWE documentaries, original series, and other projects beginning in 2025.

“In its relatively short history, Netflix has engineered a phenomenal track record for storytelling,” said Nick Khan, WWE President. “We believe Netflix, as one of the world’s leading entertainment brands, is the ideal long-term home for Raw’s live, loyal, and ever-growing fan base.”

WWE’s premium live events and specials currently are available on Peacock in the United States, but that could change in 2025 if Netflix and WWE agree to terms on those moving to Netflix also.

The press release issued today touts that Raw is “one of television’s best performing shows in the 18-49 advertising demographic.”

The press release refers to the weekly series as WWE Raw rather than WWE Monday Night Raw. No day of the week has been announced, but there’s been increasing speculation that Raw would move from Monday nights due to struggling against NFL Monday Night Football games for roughly five months out of each year.

Because of the move to Netflix, there’s also a chance Raw will no longer be three hours. Although Netflix runs ads, they run fewer per hour on their ad-supported tier than cable and broadcast TV networks; Netflix’s revenue currently is primarily driven by the monthly subscription fee. Netflix doesn’t have to conform to a traditional hour-block format, so Raw could be different lengths each week, just as Netflix movies and weekly TV series lengths vary.

Raw could end up being just two hours, or still three hours, or something in between that varies week to week, giving more suspense to when the TV main event will end since the show’s length is open-ended.

The wrestling schedule will likely be dramatically different one year from now. WWE has indicated Smackdown could move back to Tuesday nights as Friday night is widely regarded as a worse night of the week for TV than Tuesday night. Nick Khan told Pat McAfee today that Raw’s timeslot is yet to be determined, but will remain on Mondays until the USA Network deal expires in ten-and-a-half months.

If Raw moves off of Monday to Smackdown’s current timeslot of Friday, that would have the least impact on AEW, which could remain on Wednesdays and Saturdays on TBS and TNT respectively, even if that meant going head-to-head with NXT on The CW one of those nights. NXT, too, is moving; it currently airs Tuesday nights live on USA Network, but is moving to The CW late this year, giving WWF fans who don’t subscribe to cable or a streaming service a way to watch WWE’s third brand.

If WWE moves Raw from Monday nights to Wednesday nights, that would greatly affect AEW. From a production standpoint, for many years WWE preferred Raw and Smackdown to take place on back-to-back nights (Mondays and Tuesdays). It allowed their production crew to concentrate their efforts on back-to-back nights and have actual time off in between the two-day production frenzy. They’ve adjusted to spreading it out Mondays and Fridays since Smackdown moved to Fox on Fridays. This is a chance to return to the once-preferred back-to-back schedule with Raw either the night before or the night after Smackdown.

In that scenario, AEW could move Dynamite to Fridays, the current Smackdown timeslot, while keeping Collision on Saturday nights. AEW could also choose to air head-to-head with a WWE show, but it’s more likely it will aim to air on a prime time evening not also occupied by WWE since Raw and Smackdown would pull viewers away from AEW.

However, AEW’s Tony Khan has said he didn’t want to go head-to-head with the NFL, so that would leave either Wednesday or Friday for Dynamite to air without going up against either the NFL or WWE.

(PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered professional wrestling for over 35 years, first launching the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter in 1987. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2015 for Excellence in Writing on Professional Wrestling.)

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