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When The Broadcast Rights To Raw And Smackdown Are Up, The WWE Thinks A Major Streaming Player Will Be Interested

Roman Reigns in the WWE
(Image credit: WWE)

WWE shows like Monday Night Raw and SmackDown have been on television for a long time, but their days on cable and network television could be limited. A recent earnings call with co-CEO Nick Khan revealed that when both shows' broadcast rights are up, there’s a chance that a major streaming player will be interested. 

Nick Khan and other WWE decision-makers like Triple H (who became head of creative back in July) spoke during the company’s Q2 earnings call, and Khan made a statement that might turn some heads. Khan noted that the future of Monday Night Raw and SmackDown could be on a streaming service, and suggested that companies like Netflix might be involved in their programming (via Brandon Thurston):

The market is even more crowded for live. Nick talks about deep-pocketed tech players joining the market. Nick believes Netflix will become more interested live when they introduce their ad tier. Big increase for F1. NFL Sunday Ticket is expected to go to streaming player.

While nothing was definitively said about a streamer offering to buy the rights to Monday Night Raw or SmackDown, Nick Khan makes a good point. Live programming is one of the most surefire ways to recruit an audience willing to sit through ads. If Netflix is hoping to keep its ad-tier subscribers watching for a long time, a three-hour show like Monday Night Raw might be the perfect program to keep anyone with a subscription glued to the service. 

It’s interesting to hear Nick Khan mention Netflix in his statement, especially considering the relationship that the WWE currently has with Peacock. The streamer dropped a ton of cash to essentially absorb the WWE Network, and retain the rights to its catalog and the live stream of pay-per-views. One would imagine it’d at least get a shot at acquiring either Monday Night Raw or SmackDown, in addition to any other streaming services. The broadcast deals for both Monday Night Raw and SmackDown will expire on September 30, 2024 (via WhatCulture). 

One downside of these shows potentially moving to streaming is that fans who want all the WWE content may need subscriptions to multiple brands. For example, if Peacock retained the rights to pay-per-views, Monday Night Raw went to Netflix, and SmackDown went to Hulu, that’s three streaming subscriptions a fan would need just to watch the main shows. 

An upside is that streaming services aren’t bound by the same content restrictions as broadcast network television. Much like how shows like The Orville: New Horizons evolved to include more swearing and mature themes, there’s a chance the WWE could do that with Raw and SmackDown. Perhaps USA reportedly pushed to up the rating of Raw in a move to dissuade the WWE from looking into a streaming deal? The only thing we know is that the future for WWE programming sounds wide open, and who knows where it’ll be when those deals expire?

For now, Monday Night Raw airs on USA on Mondays at 8:00 p.m. ET, and SmackDown on Fridays at Fox at the same time. Now might be a great time to get a Peacock Premium subscription for the rest of the year’s pay-per-views, as the WWE’s upcoming live events like Clash at the Castle sound like can’t-miss television. 

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.