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Attention, wrestling fans: WWE launches free streaming network

NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service will soon be the only place for wrestling fans to stream the WWE Network in the US.

WWE and NBCU said Monday they reached a multiyear agreement that gives Peacock exclusive streaming rights to WWE Network for American viewers. Financial terms were not disclosed. Peacock will launch WWE Network on March 18 with over 17,000 hours of new, original and library WWE programming.

This will include live-pay-per-view events such as “WrestleMania” and “SummerSlam.” “Fastlane” will be the first WWE pay-per-view event to stream on Peacock on March 21. The network will also include original series like “Steve Austin Broken Skull Seasons,” replays of “SmackDown” and “Raw,” as well as documentaries such as “WWE24.” The company said it will produce a signature documentary annually for Peacock, starting in 2022.

The channel, including commercials, will cost $4.99 a month, or customers can pay $9.99 a month for the channel without ads.

Wrestling fans who subscribe to WWE Network’s streaming service currently pay $9.99 a month. Peacock said that WWE’s US subscriber base, which totals 1.1 million, will be migrated to its $4.99 a month offer. Details of the migration process will roll out in the next few weeks, the company said.

“WWE Network is a transformative addition to the platform and complements Peacock’s massive catalog of iconic movies and shows, as well as the best live news and sports, from NBCUniversal and beyond,” said Rick Cordella, Peacock’s executive vice president and chief revenue officer.

NBCU and WWE have been partners for almost 30 years, starting in 1993 with “Monday Night Raw” on the network’s USA channel.

In the third quarter of 2020, WWE Network had average paid subscribers of 1.6 million, down roughly 600,000 from the prior quarter but an increase of 6 percent year over year, marking the platform’s first annual growth since the first quarter of 2019. The company originally launched WWE Network in February 2014 when it ended its traditional pay-per-view events business.

As for NBCU, it continues to push Peacock’s growth amid a field of streaming rivals like Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu.

Peacock, which launched nationwide in July 2020, has amassed nearly 22 million sign ups in its first six months of wide release, the company said. Eligible customers of Comcast Xfinity X1 and Flex and Cox’s Contour — a total of about 24 million households — get Peacock Premium included at no additional cost.

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