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Various streaming services are struggling to make a dent in the saturated market that Netflix and Disney+ sit atop. A hit scripted series often lasts only two billing cycles, as AppleTV+ learned with Ted Lasso. So a service must routinely offer unique content to carve a lane in the streaming wars, and NBC’s Peacock has found its lane with WWE.
Last March, NBC Universal agreed to exclusively take over the WWE Network, on which each monthly WWE pay-per-view event airs. And according to Puck, WWE has elevated Peacock to a streaming player.
One million of WWE Network’s previous 1.1 million subscribers have converted to Peacock subscribers so far, and more than 3 million Peacock subscribers have watched WWE content since March. More than half of those 3 million indicated that they signed up “because of WWE.”
Thus, WWE is not only drawing subscribers to Peacock but attracting existing Peacock subscribers. So WWE is proving to both draw and keep subscribers on Peacock month after month, a challenge most streaming services face.
With a fragmented streaming market, each service must convince subscribers to pay for its content in addition to the others. As Statista found, most U.S. households subscribe to more than one service. So, say a household has a three-service cap. Peacock then has to sell subscribers on why it should make the cut over many — many — others. If nothing else, WWE’s monthly pay-per-views are a selling point to at least one million streamers.
Netflix is the default, Disney+ is the family package, and HBO Max is the prestigious content holder. So Peacock needed much more than reruns of The Office to stand out. WWE has helped brand Peacock.
Looking ahead, Peacock’s success with WWE should have a domino effect on the wrestling and streaming industries. Look for competing services to try and find their own WWE hub. All eyes are on AEW, WWE’s most notable competitor, which has teased its own streaming service. Given AEW’s relationship with WarnerMedia, HBO Max is a natural fit for exclusive AEW content.
In the bigger picture, WWE numbers on Peacock make the company more appealing to potential buyers. Rumors that Vince McMahon could sell WWE in the coming years are probably exaggerated but nonetheless persistent. Netflix, Amazon, Disney, or Apple could one day buy WWE to bolster its market share and crumble Peacock’s.