WWE recently licensed their WWE network content to content provider Peacock. Many people have criticized this move by WWE but as someone in the business for himself and is a content creator I understand this move by WWE.
Before we get into WWE what they are doing Is not something new. For example, UFC makes the majority of their money on licensing content to ESPN. Joe Rogan made a huge amount of money licensing his podcast to Spotify. UFC tried their own network for a while and realized little return on investment but a larger content provider like ESPN can benefit from UFC it’s cheaper to license content than it is to create it for big companies like ESPN or Peacock.
Entertainment events like MMA and wrestling are better left in the content creator’s hands that know what they are doing rather than big corporate companies let us not forget what happened to WCW when AOL and Time Warner tried to run it.
WWE tried to get the network off the ground, and they did have around 1.2 million subscribers and while this number is impressive the number moved a little bit but in the years, WWE has never really jumped in subscriber numbers. WWE tried to increase revenue by splitting out the network and offering a free tier. Then recently started running ads on even paid subscribers to increase revenue and during pay-per-views.
While WWE was doing ok with the network it comes down to the business WWE wants to be into going forward. To start with hosting a network or 1.2 million viewers is expensive and WWE not really in the business of running a network they just want to create content. Peacock is in the business of distributing content, so this makes sense.
The second factor is a financial decision. WWE is getting what reports have said a billion dollars for WWE content over several years. WWE knows how much they made last year on the WWE network year over year and how long would it take them to make one billion dollars in revenue by hosting their own network. These are all factors that play into this kind of decision.
The third decision is growth WWE has never seen much growth year over year with the WWE Network with Peacock already having 35 million subscribers this will give Peacock more subscribers and open WWE premium content to a larger audience that may help WWE with growth in other markets like tv and merchandise.
While I do think this is an interesting move for WWE I think it’s a smart one as it lets them go back to what they do best and leaves the running of the network to the provider.