Wrestlers, analysts give instant reaction to Netflix’s massive acquisition of WWE Raw

After years of resistance, Netflix is finally diving into live sports.

Streamers like Amazon and Apple have invested heavily in live sports properties over the last few years — but Netflix  (NFLX) – Get Free Report has zagged while the rest have zigged, focusing more on hit documentary series like “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” and “Full Swing.”

The company has tested the waters over the last few months on live sports, streaming exhibition matches like “The Netflix Cup,” though it had still not pushed in the big bucks to have a consistent live sports property on its platform. Until the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 23.

Related: Netflix makes massive bet on live sports ahead of Q4 earnings

Netflix and TKO Holdings Group. announced that WWE Raw will have the exclusive rights to starting in 2025. The 10-year deal gives Netflix exclusive rights to Raw worldwide, and it will start next year in the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Latin America. 

The deal, which comes on the morning of Netflix’s fourth quarter earnings call, is reportedly worth over $5 billion — though Netflix has the option to exit the deal after five years.

TKO president and COO Mark Shapiro called the a deal a “game changer,” while other wrestlers have also reacted on social media to the news.

Cody Rhodes, the face of the WWE2K24 video game, called the deal “outstanding” on X (formerly Twitter).

Outstanding! @WWE 🤝 @netflix https://t.co/W4PHnID6OS pic.twitter.com/URbVZfbKCy

— Cody Rhodes (@CodyRhodes) January 23, 2024

WWE legend and chief content officer Triple H tweeted that the deal “will break new ground.”

This partnership is one that will break new ground, and take @WWE to new heights. Thrilled to bring #WWERaw to @Netflix, coming January 2025.

Now we change the game!!!! https://t.co/ridOlqq0Gc

— Triple H (@TripleH) January 23, 2024

And Women’s World Heavyweight Champion Rhea Ripley joked by changing the popular “Netflix and Chill” phrase to “Netflix and Wrestle.”

Netflix and chi… Wrestle? 🤷🏻‍♀️😈 https://t.co/qiucSpHsKu

— RheaRipley_WWE (@RheaRipley_WWE) January 23, 2024

Meanwhile, experts have also trickled in with their thoughts on X, with LightShed’s Brandon Ross calling it an “incredible deal” by the wrestling promotion as it improves global distribution for a significant period of time.

Incredible deal by WWE – future proofing its business and guaranteeing wide global reach. NFLX gets the global ad inventory it needed. $TKO $NFLX

— Brandon Ross (@BrandoLightShed) January 23, 2024

Prominent sports business reporter Darren Rovell looked at the bigger picture with his short commentary, saying that Netflix’s foray into live sports could spell doom for Disney and ESPN.

Larger story: The cash on hand that Amazon, Apple and Netflix have, and can spend on rights fees, should scare the hell out of Disney.

Because, given the way ESPN’s programming has gone recently, losing live rights could very well be the end of ESPN. https://t.co/0q9exs8fOp

— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) January 23, 2024

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