Is WWE Raw coming to Netflix in the Middle East?

Pro wrestling company and streaming platform announce blockbuster deal valued at more than $5 billion

Starting next January, Netflix will exclusively broadcast Raw in the US, Canada, UK and Latin America before expanding to other countries. Getty Images
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The WWE is coming to Netflix.

In a blockbuster deal announced on Tuesday, the wrestling company said its weekly flagship programme WWE Raw would begin streaming on the platform next January.

CNBC reports the 10-year deal is valued at more than $5 billion and includes a guarantee for the first five years with an option from Netflix to extend the deal for another 10 years.

Netflix will stream Raw globally. It will be available to subscribers in the US, the UK, Canada and Latin America first, before being rolled out worldwide. Netflix will also host WWE programmes, such as SmackDown and Royal Rumble, as well as premium live events outside the US.

“We are thrilled to bring WWE live programming to our members around the world. WWE Raw is sports entertainment, which is right in the sweet spot of our sports business, which is the drama of sport,” said Netflix chief executive Ted Sarandos.

“We think of this as 52 weeks of live programming every week, every year. It feeds our desire to expand our live programming. Most importantly, fans love it.

“For decades, WWE has grown this multi-generational fanbase we believe we can serve and grow. We believe the WWE has historically been under-distributed outside of North America, and this is a global deal, so we can help them, they can help us build that fandom around the world.”

The deal will affect fans in the US, UK, Canada and Latin America first before being expanded to other countries later. So, what does this mean for fans in the Gulf region, and across the Middle East?

Currently, the show can be streamed on MBC under its subscription platform Shahid in a deal that began in 2022. Although details were not revealed about the duration of the agreement, WWE programming in the region is likely to continue until the contract expires and could then potentially be shipped to another platform.

The National has contacted MBC.

In the US, the wrestling company previously struck a deal to move SmackDown from Fox to USA Network, and it also reached an agreement to move its other show NXT from USA Network to The CW. That means by 2025, the company will have a weekly show on broadcast television, cable television and streaming.

However, according to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the Netflix deal appears to be the start of a “worldwide all-encompassing” agreement for the WWE to have all of its shows on the same service.

“Given the nature of the already existing international deal, one would come to the conclusion that at the end of these deals, Netflix would have a good shot at becoming the US home for all of the programming, and this would also open the door for Netflix to do additional WWE projects such as documentaries,” reports Meltzer.

However, he also notes that because of networking deals in the US, it would be several years before the WWE would be able to secure new rights with a single service.

Raw has always aired on live television since its debut in 1993 and bills itself as the "longest-running, episodic programme in TV history" with claims the show has 17.5 million viewers each week in the US.

Updated: January 25, 2024, 3:12 AM