WWE Network Ups Q4 SVOD Subs 6%

WWE Feb. 4 reported that its branded subscription streaming VOD network averaged 1.5 million paid subscribers during the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2020, an increase of 6% from 1.41 million during the previous-year period. The SVOD service reached 1.8 million subs in 2016.

WWE recently announced a license agreement with NBCUniversal’s Peacock platform, making the AVOD/SVOD hybrid service the exclusive North American home for professional wrestling. WWE said the agreement enables the company to reach a larger audience and realize a greater economic return as compared to a standalone subscription service.

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“As we continued to adapt our business to the changing media environment, we completed an important agreement to license WWE Network content to Peacock, which we expect will expand the reach of our brands and enhance the value of our content,” CEO Vince McMahon said in a statement.

Wall Street firm Lightshed Partners believes WWE’s decision to partner with Peacock rather than go it alone as a SVOD service underscores the value of distribution scale versus content “arms dealer.”

“The WWE Network strategy was not a failure,” the company wrote in a recent blog post. “We still firmly believe in a direct-to-consumer streaming strategy. However, it requires far greater scale and resources, plus a different DNA than that of a content company.”

WWE will return hosting its branded “WrestleMania” live-event showcases April 10-11, 2021, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla., with ticket availability and safety protocols forthcoming.

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