MR. TITO: Follow-Up Thoughts on WWE Joining Netflix and Rock Becoming TKO Board Member

Folks, the events of January 23rd, 2024 will live in infamy for Pro Wrestling. It was one those BONKERS days that professional wrestling often provides, and it’s the “fix” that struggles to make me cease being a wrestling fan or even Mr. Tito writing columns. I cannot put the crackpipe down, and a day like yesterday with WWE signing a deal with Netflix and then the freakin’ Rock joining TKO’s board of directors… What the hell? Can we try to space these stories out to give us more material during the week?

I woke up yesterday, checked my phone, and immediately went downstairs to pound-out a column very early in the morning (before 9am). I posted THIS COLUMN yesterday before all of the additional details were reported… So thus, there’s MORE to this story than what I initially had… But if you want to see someone’s initial reaction and take to the 2 monumentally HUGE stories that will have ramifications for years to come, check out yesterday’s column.

In addition to my columns, PLEASE check out yesterday’s special NoDQ Review which is well worth your time to watch on YouTube with the great panel of Aaron, Virtue, Walter, Big G, and Rhonda. Their analysis put a few ideas in my head to think about, so partial credit to them for several ideas put forth in this column.

Based on my research, here’s the information that I can gather on the WWE deal with Netflix:

– RAW begins to air on Netflix during January 2025

– RAW will also air to the following International Markets on their version of Netflix during January 2025: Canada, United Kingdom, Latin America, and “other territories” with other countries to be added later.

– Also starting during January 2025, Netflix becomes the home of WWE’s Paid Live Events (PLE) both here in the United States and Internationally. This spells the end for Peacock’s airing of such events (WOW!).

– Also during early 2025, WWE’s documentaries, original series, and other projects begin to air on Netflix internationally.

– 10 year deal for “in excess of $5 Billion” (or $500 million per year), but Netflix has an opt-out clause after 5 years if they choose to do so.

Wow… So this means that Peacock is SOL (“and you know what that means”, old WCW reference). It’s likely that WWE has to schedule their PLE’s in advance on Peacock to air their live events, hence why January 2025 is the starting point for PLEs to air on Netflix. However, keep in mind that WWE has a deal with Peacock through March 2026.

My question is where does WWE Network go after March 2026? Is this part of the Netflix deal to move parts of the WWE Netflix?

On NoDQ Review, they mentioned that Netflix is staking a claim on one of Cable/Satellite’s tentpole show, Monday Night RAW and may be beginning to drive final nails in Cable/Satellite channels who only have live sporting events that draws viewers to their networks. Hence why WWE and other sports leagues have been raking cash out of these networks for the past 10 years. Furthermore, Netflix hasn’t tried live television in comparison to other streaming services. If this succeeds with Netflix’s large North American and International reach, it will pull in other sports leagues onto that service.

And folks, I need to agree with Dave Meltzer on something… *GASP* While he praises the 18-49 demo excessively, a point he has repeatedly made was how fast Cable/Satellite has decline just in the past year alone. We were in about 83 million homes for most main Cable/Satellite channels last year but now we’re down to a shocking 72 million or so now. That is a MASSIVE drop compared to other years where the subscription base declined for Cable/Satellite services. Now, a point that I kept making against Dave was while he praised the 18-49 demo, I did ratio analysis and computed his audiences for AEW Dynamite were about 450,000 or less each week. I’m NOT here to rip AEW’s viewership, BUT am making the point that younger people are NOT buying Cable/Satellite services. That’s a fact… Many 30-60 year old subscribers are cutting cords, too, while many subscribers above the age of 60 are, well, croaking.

Increasing amounts of people are using streaming services which can stream from virtually any device of their choosing, as long as you have a good internet connection (which costs $$$). For now, the streaming services are reasonable in pricing and more expensive if you don’t want advertisements (*raises hand*). But that could change, as Netflix’s content acquisitions and paying actors/writers could push up their prices. The low price was a strong selling point, but I want to stress that CONVENIENCE matters, too. Cable/Satellite shows POUND you with commercials, whereas streaming content (with the right tier) does not. That’s the difference.

We’ll need to see what happens with WWE RAW… Will it have commercials now that it’s on Netflix? I hope not, as that would be a more enriching experience. And if you don’t have commercials, can cursing and more adult themes return? After all, I’m told the advertisers dictated WWE’s content for years and Netflix seems to give zero farks about the language or nudity on their shows. WWE should lean into this.

Nick Khan was on Pat McAfee today, speaking about Monday Nights and how fierce the competition has been with the NFL Monday Night Football and NCAA Championship games. I don’t know if he was alluding to moving away from that day or thumping his chest on how reasonably well WWE did against those sporting events.

Someone commented that any wrestling analysist of TV ratings was going to be “out of the job”. Not on my end, folks… TV ratings were part of the economic indicators for Pro Wrestling… If I see attendance being LOW in an arena, I’ll assume the TV viewership is detrimental. With Netflix being a publicly traded company, we should be able to relatively understand if WWE impacts their streaming service or not. I DO BELIEVE getting the PLEs will be a HUGE deal for Netflix. Are you kidding me?!? Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, and SummerSlam on Netflix?!?!? That is MASSIVE! That’s what Netflix wanted.

And do us a favor, Netflix… Make RAW 2 hours again, please. Get more value in the concept of “less is more”.

On the NoDQ Review, I gotta give props to Rhonda Shane for a unique take about the Rock joining TKO’s Board of Directors. In addition to UFC now being a possible pipeline to the WWE, as “washed up” fighters can convert to NXT or WWE performers, but both UFC and WWE superstars have a serious avenue to HOLLYWOOD now with the Rock and Endeavor’s top management full of agents. Batista, the Rock, John Cena, and maybe Roman Reigns more often have been making big bucks in Hollywood and as Rhonda said, where are you going to find big jacked up guys who can act? They are all in Pro Wrestling!

There is sooooooo much to unwrap with Nick Khan and Endeavor’s association with WWE now… It’s MORE than the in-ring product, as it’s likely to create pipelines to different avenues in the entertainment world. Think of it in stages… You attempt to join UFC or WWE’s Developmental Center and work your way up. If you just remain in UFC or WWE your entire career, you’ll make good money and receive nice amounts of fame… But, if you hit that exceptional level, Endeavor may be able to represent you elsewhere.

And just look at the TKO machine running… Vince McMahon is handling corporate affairs (no, not those affairs) and staying away from micro-managing talent or the creative team. Nick Khan is assisting with Vince while they let Triple H handle creative and talent. To Triple H’s credit, he’s a delegator of authority and has multiple direct reports helping him to disallow the micro-managing as one person like Vince. Hence why WWE’s creative looks so different and why wrestlers are happier than ever in WWE.

As the folks on NoDQ Review said, WWE might want to impress the Netflix and hold off the Rock vs. Roman Reigns Wrestlemania match-up until 2025. And that’s 100% OK because the WWE roster is LOADED right now and has the capacity to put on a great show. Simply put, have Roman vs. Cody again and when the Bloodline tries to interfere at Wrestlemania 40, “IF YOU SMELLLL What the Rock is Cooking” music hits and he wipes out Jimmy and Solo to allow Cody Rhodes to get the big win. Then, Rock and Roman can hype Wrestlmania 41 for one freakin’ year just like Cena and Rock did during 2011-2012. Soooooo much money to be made.

But the beauty of WWE finally announcing their deal with Netflix is that it ends the logjam of television rights. Now, AEW has the field of Amazon Prime, Disney, Paramount, or returning with Warner Bros. Discovery without the WWE trolling them. WWE placing RAW on Netflix also puts their channels on notice, as living sporting events migrating to streaming services is the nightmare and endgame of Cable/Satellite. Thus, AEW could get a big television deal that could work well on Warner Bros. Discovery to coincide with their MAX streaming service or maybe Paramount Global’s Paramount+? Amazon Prime has incredible reach, too.

With Netflix just giving away 5 billion or 2.5 billion, how much will this increase the price of the service?

The dirty secret of Netflix is how much it is enjoyed by WOMEN, as 51% of account holders are women. Lots of shows cater towards them, but that could be affected if the streaming services plasters “WWE” everywhere while also raising prices because of paying up to $5 billion for the WWE. I also believe that other streaming services will begin unwinding and your big media conglomerates will begin to price gouge Netflix for content again, as they did before 2020. We’re already seeing Disney, Paramount, and WBD sending a few films to Netflix, but I’d expect that to be more frequent.

I’d be very careful raising the prices significantly, if I were Netflix. The premium version is $22.99 and if it continues to climb, it will be like paying for a basic cable service. Combine that with with several other streaming services along with your internet + cell phone bill, it will be as if you never cut the cord with Comcast on the Triple Play bundle.

The fact that cannot be denied is that Cable/Satellite is dying. It PEAKED through 2013-2014 with around 100 million households, and now we’re near 70 million households. Wow… And that was how many households had Cable/Satellite during the late 1990s when the Monday Night Wars was seriously drawing 6-8 million viewers per show.

WWE, right now, is something else… After trying and trying during the 2010s to find a John Cena replacement, it took a while to find him but they did once Roman Reigns turned heel during 2020. Cody Rhodes and CM Punk, in all honestly, should NOT be in the WWE. That’s a shame what happened to both, but it’s to WWE’s benefit. Seth Rollins is killing it again, Brock Lesnar and John Cena are always great AND are putting over talent, Randy Orton is back, LA Knight figured it out, and there are lots of younger wrestlers on the way. Endeavor will fill that pipeline with potential WWE superstars to work their way up through Developmental Center, NXT, and WWE for years to come. Thanks to Endeavor, WWE now has proper segregation of duties with Vince McMahon staying in the offices and remaining out of the arena. After 10 years of bumps and bruises, Triple H is experienced to handle the WWE job now.

But let’s give credit where it is due…

Do you remember the WWE of 2018? It kinda sucked… Roman’s babyface push continued, the shine on Brock Lesnar wore off a tad, NXT wasn’t stocking the WWE roster as well as past developmental system, and the creative sucked with it being heavily micro-managed by Vince McMahon. WWE salaries were actually plateauing and the Pay Per View bonuses were gone thanks to the WWE Network. It was miserable to be a wrestling fan back in 2018! Then, a competitor arrived in All Elite Wrestling and guys now had another place to work.

WWE changed from then on into what you see today… Nick Khan was officially added in 2020, though he represented WWE on their 2019-2024 TV deals as an agent. Roman Reigns was turned heel. Titles weren’t changing as frequently as they used to… An experienced Triple H returned and finally clicked in his role.

Competition breeds success… Fighting with the territories made WWE great during the 1980s. WCW Nitro forced WWE to change during 1997 to become king again. AEW briefly threatened the WWE’s supremacy and now look at the WWE. During early 2025, they’ll be making $500 million on Netflix for RAW and PLEs, $280 million on USA Network for Smackdown, probably close to $100 million on the CW Network for NXT, and still making $200 million for Peacock’s WWE Network. Good lord…

If you’re Kazuchika Okada, is this the BEST EVER time to be a Free Agent in the history of Pro Wrestling?

And if you’re another wrestling promotion, maybe moving your Cable/Satellite show to Mondays might not be a bad idea now that RAW will be out of town by January 2025. Or maybe you try your hand at joining a them on streaming… Maybe it won’t matter because WWE is on streaming, Cable/Satellite, and broadcast… Holy cow, WWE is a well oiled machine!

You’re gonna hear much more from me in future columns, so just chill… Until the next episode. Shall I bring back Mr. Tito’s Phat Daily Column?

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