Wrestling Math

No, this isn’t a blog post about that Scott Steiner promo.

World Wrestling Entertainment recently announced that they’ll be moving their streaming content from their own service, WWE Network, to NBCUniversal’s Peacock. Based on the available information, this is an amazing deal for WWE, and a really strange deal for Peacock.

Over the course of the past couple years, WWE Network has had around 1.1 million subscribers, at $9.99 per month. That’s around 11 million dollars a month, or 132 million a year, in gross revenue. NBCUniversal are reportedly paying a cool billion over five years, or 200 million a year, for the rights to WWE’s rasslin’ content.

This means WWE is coming out far, far ahead — their 132 million gross revenue (and obviously a lot less net) jumps about 50 percent, with no real work on their part.

But the NBCU side… I don’t get it. On the surface, it looks like NBCU comes up about 70 million short. Now let’s add in the fact that WWE Network subscribers will, by default, be transitioned to Peacock’s $4.99/month plan, effectively cutting revenue in half. NBCU is paying 200 million a year to generate about 65 million in new revenue.

And that assumes that every single one of these subscribers are new Peacock users. Cox and Comcast include Peacock for some subscribers, and all those Office junkies are already Peacock subscribers. There’s no easy way to know how many users that really applies to, but it’s bound to be more than “zero”. (Of course, some of these new Peacock subs will switch to the $10 ad-free tier, but even if everyone did that, we’d be back to that ~70 million number.

NBCUniversal gets to tout a small bump in subscribers — realistically, probably 700-800 thousand, and the matching bump in revenue (probably 50-60 million dollars a year), but they’re paying 200 million dollars a year for the privilege. I just don’t understand business math.

Wrestling Math