Originally published at POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: WWE & Peacock execs speak on deal
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**Tonight, on Rewind-A-Raw, Wai Ting and I will be discussing the WWE-Peacock deal in-depth along with our review of RAW followed by feedback and a look ahead of what’s coming up on the site this week. We are live at 11:15 pm ET tonight for Double Double, Iced Capp & Espresso members of the POST Wrestling Café.
**We have a special bonus interview on the site with Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics chatting about the WWE-Peacock deal from all angles, the financials that have been reported, the long-term play by both, the future of NXT, looking back at the WWE Network’s changes since 2014, the difference in philosophy, and what this deal means for WWE.
**On Tuesday, our ROCKY reviews return as Wai and I discuss ROCKY 5 from 1990 starring Sylvester Stallone and Tommy “The Duke” Morrison. You can still leave feedback on the POST Wrestling Forum and this show will be released Tuesday afternoon for all members of the POST Wrestling Café.
**Andrew Thompson will have an interview with independent wrestler Lee Moriarty on the site on Tuesday promoting this weekend’s Fight Forever shows.
**We have coverage of the WWE Superstar Spectacle beginning at 9:30 am ET Tuesday morning.
Tonight: Rewind-A-Raw with John & Wai (LIVE at 11:15 pm ET for Double Double, Iced Capp & Espresso Patrons)
Tuesday: ROCKY 5 review with John & Wai (Patreon)
Wednesday: Rewind-A-Dynamite (LIVE at 10:15 pm ET for Dbl Dbl+ Patrons)
Wednesday: upNXT with Braden Herrington & Davie Portman
Thursday: Bushby & Thompson’s Wrestling Adventure (Royal Rumble 2002)
Friday: POST Interview – Jimmy Korderas of Aftermath TV
**The seismic announcement by WWE and NBC’s Peacock streaming platform will result in WWE continuing to fortify their financial security with the addition of another nine-figure annual guarantee. The U.S. distribution deal for the WWE Network is reportedly worth over $1 billion over the five-year deal, which breaks down to an average annual value in excess of $200 million, roughly equivalent to their annual earnings from the Fox deal for Friday Night SmackDown.
When the RAW deal with NBCUniversal, SmackDown on Fox, and the Peacock deal are accounted for, it’s roughly $670 million per year in guaranteed revenue. That is without figuring in the deal in Saudi Arabia, and tremendous savings from less touring that have placed the company with its best financial outlook in history.
This was the first major deal for incoming WWE president Nick Khan, who was presented as the WWE spokesman in all the articles covering today’s news.
Khan spoke to Tony Maglio and Jennifer Maas at The Wrap on the benefits to WWE:
So I’ll give you an example: Peacock is free in the Comcast cable and Cox cable homes, as I’m sure you know, so…for the first time ever, WrestleMania, which is our Super Bowl, is going to be available for free to those homes. In addition to that, it cuts the cost for our consumers from $9.99 a month for WWE Network to $4.99 a month on the ad-supported tier of Peacock, where they’ll get not only WWE but EPL (English Premier League), “The Office,” Dick Wolf and so many other titles.
In the same piece, Peacock’s Chief Revenue Officer Rick Cordella:
So our overall goal, and why I think NBCU decided to move forward with this deal, is that we believe we can expand the accessibility of this content, right? That we can — through NBCU marketing, through the outlets that we have, all the various media outlets, through the price point reduction, through the addition of content — that we can grow this audience significantly that currently watched it. And that will have downstream impact to the rest of WWE and those TV ratings, hopefully, that you see on linear television, as well as to Peacock. There is a halo effect to those users coming in for WrestleMania, but then sticking around and watching “The Office,” watching “Yellowstone,” watching some of the great content we have in the 30,000 hours that are now bundled in with their subscription price.
Last year, the WWE Network segment generated $184.6 million in revenue, but this is a worldwide revenue figure. At the end of Q3 this year, the number of U.S. paid subscribers rested at 1,137,000 with the plan to migrate those subscribers over to Peacock Premium. The premium service is priced at $4.99 per month but is accompanied by ads with the user having the option of going ad-free at $9.99 per month.
From a fan’s perspective, the decision to go this route versus the idea of a tiered network was a positive one. In theory, someone spending $9.99 on the WWE Network can now get the same service for half the price along with all of Peacock’s content, providing you can put up with advertising. At worst, it’s a wash and you can upgrade at the same price point as you were previously spending.
If there was an argument as to whether WrestleMania would be seen as a pay-per-view event above and beyond a subscription fee, this answered it as they opted not to go that direction. Timing-wise, this was it to attempt to put the toothpaste back in the tube. Ultimately, they must have felt that switching users to a new service and adding an ala carte price for two-nights of WrestleMania was too much of an ask. This differs from the ESPN+ strategy where they became the U.S. distributor of UFC pay-per-views beginning in 2019 where users had to subscribe to ESPN+ and now are paying $69.99 per event. The difference is that UFC never took their pay-per-views off the market to include with a subscription to Fight Pass, which launched one month prior to the WWE Network in January 2014.
Long-term, I still feel it was a mistake to take WrestleMania away, but the feeling was they needed their biggest event to drive subscribers during that launch period. UFC and Boxing have proven that over the past decade when you have a marquee event, the ceiling is very high when it comes to pay-per-view.
Fastlane will be the guinea pig on March 21st to make sure Peacock is equipped to handle the live streaming component, although viewership for that event will be a fraction of WrestleMania three weeks later. The worst-case scenario would be a technical disaster as ESPN+ experienced this past Saturday for UFC 257.
It was noted in the press release that among the content for Peacock, it will include one annual documentary beginning in 2022. The most compelling subject is Vince McMahon, although a documentary is already in development for Netflix.
**Despite the major news announcement, the WWE stock declined by 2.8 percent Monday and closed at $53.96.
**Tonight’s episode of RAW is the go-home show for the Royal Rumble with the following matches and appearances advertised:
*RAW Women’s Championship: Asuka (champion) vs. Alexa Bliss
*Charlotte Flair vs. Shayna Baszler
*Riddle vs. Cedric Alexander, Shelton Benjamin & MVP in a Gauntlet Match for a shot at Bobby Lashley
*Drew McIntyre and Bill Goldberg to appear
**In Canada this past Friday, SmackDown averaged 182,300 viewers and 91,700 in the 25-54 demographic on Sportsnet 360. Among sports programs, they were fifth with the top spots occupied by the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Edmonton Oilers game, and #2 was the Toronto Raptors vs. Miami Heat game.
**On Tuesday, WWE presents the Superstar Spectacle, which was taped last Friday at the ThunderDome in St. Petersburg, Florida. The show airs live in India on Sony Ten 1, Sony Ten 3 & Sony MAX as well as worldwide on the WWE Network at 9:30 am ET. The following matches were taped for the special:
*Finn Balor vs. Guru Raaj
*Rey Mysterio, Ricochet, Giant Zanjeer & Dilsher Shanky vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Cesaro, King Corbin & Dolph Ziggler
*AJ Styles vs. Jeet Rama
*Bayley & Natalya vs. Charlotte Flair & Sareena Sandhu
*Drew McIntyre & Indus Sher vs. Jinder Mahal & The Bollywood Boyz
**Paul Levesque spoke with The Hindustan Times about Tuesday’s Superstar Spectacle event and the plans for NXT India:
We have been trying to find athletes since 2014 who could become local Indian WWE stars with a long-term goal of starting a WWE NXT India. The pandemic delayed that project. We are at a point now where we believe we have athletes ready or getting ready to take that big stage. If we could do that in person, we would be in India doing it.
**Last Thursday’s episode of Total Bellas averaged 352,000 viewers and a 0.15 in the 18-49 demo. This was the episode featuring both Nikki and Brie giving birth.
**AEW has added a stipulation for the match between Dax Harwood and Jungle Boy where Tully Blanchard and Cash Wheeler will be handcuffed to Luchasaurus.
**GCW promoter Brett Lauderdale has made it clear that no one is to show up this week for the Fight Forever series of events if they are not booked. The promotion is demanding that all talent and staff produce a negative COVID test upon entry for the shows as a response to how things were handled at The Collective back in October. Fight Forever will be a 24-hour free stream of wrestling cards beginning on Friday at 8 pm ET.
**Suwama retained the Triple Crown against Shotaro Ashino on Sunday’s All Japan show at Korakuen Hall and making the fifth defense of his championship. On the same card, Koji Iwamoto retained the AJPW junior heavyweight title against Fuminori Abe.
**CM Punk is quarantining as a safety measure for an upcoming job. He made it clear he does not have COVID-19 and is following the guidelines for said job.
**New Japan’s Road to New Beginning tour has a break until Thursday when they ran in Nagano. The card on Thursday is headlined by a ten-man tag with Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tomoaki Honma, SHO & Master Wato vs. Shingo Takagi, Hiromu Takahashi, Tetsuya Naito, Yoshi-Hashi & BUSHI. The big show is Saturday with the New Beginning in Nagano show featuring Takagi vs. Tanahashi for the NEVER Openweight Championship.
**MLW has added a tag match to this Wednesday’s episode of Fusion with TJP & Bu Ku Dao taking on Kevin Ku & Dominic Garrini. The show will also feature a Caribbean Strap Match between Savio Vega and Richard Holliday airing at 7 pm ET on Fubo Sports and the MLW YouTube channel.
**Andreas Hale and Kel Dansby recently welcomed Gail Kim to their Wrestling with Stereotypes show and the treatment of women’s wrestling by the promotions she has worked with.
**Episode 240 of Being the Elite “Fender Bender”.
**The IMPACT Plus streaming service will be releasing a roundtable chat later this week featuring Gail Kim, Velvet Sky, Christy Hemme, ODB, Brooke Tessmacher, and Taryn Terrell as part of Knockouts Month.
**The Fight Network recently produced a documentary on RJ City, which will be released this Thursday at Noon ET on their YouTube channel.
**The UFC 257 card was a huge one for the promotion with Dana White indicating a massive figure for the pay-per-view, although no number has been reported independently. The buzz leading into the show was gigantic and I have no doubt this will be among the most purchased events in company history and I’d be confident it tops the 1.3 million number that Conor McGregor drew with Donald Cerrone one year ago.
The future of Conor McGregor was a much-discussed topic and what Saturday’s fight proves. McGregor doesn’t appear to be stepping back and appears to be interested in completing a trilogy with Nate Diaz, which would be the biggest MMA fight McGregor could have with Khabib Nurmagomedov off the table. McGregor is only 32 but he was very inactive during the last few prime years. The version of McGregor that beat Eddie Alvarez in November 2016 may have been the best version of the star we have seen. He was poised to have a gigantic 2017 inside the UFC but opted to venture out and fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. where the financial end was too lucrative for all parties. After myriad infractions outside of the cage, McGregor didn’t compete again until October 2018 and was thoroughly controlled by Nurmagomedov that led to another sabbatical until January 2020.
The years go by fast and the inactivity will be cited as a cause for McGregor’s loss. He was hardly outclassed by winning the first round and landing a left hand on Dustin Poirier, which he acknowledged rocked him and would not have been able to take too many of. If McGregor landed several more, we’d have a totally different discussion on Monday morning. I’m very confident McGregor could still beat many of the elite lightweights, but this was a fight where we saw him stopped with punches and get knocked down. McGregor believes it was the calf kicks that left his leg “dead” as the key contributor to his demise in the bout and there is a lot of credence based on his performance as the leg kicks escalated.
With Dana White appearing to accept the reality that Nurmagomedov is done, the title should be vacated, and regardless of which lightweight stands across from him, Dustin Poirier needs to fight for the vacant title. Poirier took the leap into Hall of Fame status this past weekend with one of the greatest resumes in UFC history and has fought the who’s who of the sport. It was an amazing story to see his comeback, not only from the previous loss to McGregor in 2014 but been soundly defeated by Nurmagomedov in September 2019.
The lightweight title picture should consist of Poirier, Charles Oliveira, and Michael Chandler. Poirier has indicated he doesn’t believe he should fight Chandler next given his long road compared to Chandler winning one fight in the organization. The names Poirier threw out included a rematch with McGregor as they are 1-1, and Nate Diaz, meaning Poirier is looking at the most lucrative options, which is the largest asset McGregor and Diaz brings to their next fights.
In my opinion, Poirier and Oliveira is the fight to make but no one will complain if Chandler gets the title fight after one of the best debuts in company history. Justin Gaethje would be poised to fight the odd man out, but a lot depends on what McGregor wants to do next and when he wants to compete again. The talk of McGregor pursuing a fight with Manny Pacquiao appears to be cooled considerably and while it’s the most marketable fight for McGregor, it seems significantly tougher to make today. Regardless, McGregor has the shortest path back to a title opportunity as I’m certain he would be thrown into a title fight if he wins his next fight.
**Conor McGregor posted the following message after his loss on Saturday:
Thanks for the support everyone! Was not my night/morning in there but a great contest to improve on. I’m excited at the blockbuster trilogy I now have on my hands. Dustin is a hell of a competitor and I look forward to going again. God bless us all, happy Sunday
**BJ Penn was arrested over the weekend for suspicion of DUI by the Hawaii County Police Department. An official with the department confirmed the arrest to Steven Marrocco of MMA Fighting adding that Penn has since been released pending an investigation. Penn and his representative have yet to respond to the outlet with a comment. It is Penn’s latest incident, which has become a disturbing trend. Penn, 42, was cut by the UFC in 2019 and last fought in May 2019 dropping a decision to Clay Guida and was his seventh consecutive defeat. The former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion initially retired in July 2014 and was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame before staging a comeback in early 2017.
**After a split decision loss at UFC 257, Nik Lentz has announced his retirement:
They say don’t make rash decisions after a loss, but this one is not rash or even quick for that matter. The injury I suffered to my eyes last year was a career ender. In total I lost about 40% of my vision, but I wanted to see what one more hard fought battle was like with the new eyes. It was clear to me last night that it’s impossible for me to compete at this level anymore. I just can’t lock on to a moving target like I should, and with 40% of my vision practically gone… it’s chaotic to the least
My life as fighter in the best organization on the planet ends here. I am not sad or upset by it, the day comes for everyone. I stand with my head high, God as my redeemer and my children and wife as my treasure. Fighting gave those treasures and only ask for a little vision as payment. A trade I would make 100% of the time.
Thank you to my fans, my coaches, my family and everyone who has been a part of this process. Who knows what comes next for The Carny…. but I can tell you what it’s not.
Lentz retires at the age of 35 with a career that began in July 2005. He fought twenty times before he was signed by the UFC and debuted for the promotion at UFC 103 in September 2009. He went 14-9-1 with 1 no contest for the course of eleven years with the UFC earning wins against Tyson Griffin, Manny Gamburyan, Danny Castillo, Will Brooks, and Gray Maynard while competing at lightweight and featherweight.
He fought current lightweight contender Charles Oliveira three times with the first being changed to a no-contest after Oliveira landed an illegal knee before submitting Lentz in June 2011. They had a rematch in May 2015 where Oliveira submitted Lentz and then fought a third time in May 2019 with Oliveira winning by TKO.
After the final loss to Oliveira, he cut down to featherweight and dropped a decision to Arnold Allen in January 2020 and his fight with Movsar Evloev this past weekend was fought at a catchweight of 150 pounds that Lentz lost by split decision. He retires with a record of 30-12-2 and 1 no contest.
**It’s a very quick turnaround for the UFC on pay-per-view as UFC 258 takes place in three weeks on Saturday, February 13th. On Saturday’s broadcast, they revealed the five-fight main card for that event, which takes place from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas:
*UFC Welterweight Championship: Kamaru Usman (champion) vs. Gilbert Burns
*Uriah Hall vs. Chris Weidman
*Maycee Barber vs. Alexa Grasso
*Kelvin Gastelum vs. Ian Heinisch
*Jimmie Rivera vs. Pedro Munhoz
**The next UFC Fight Night card is Saturday, February 6th on the eve of the Super Bowl featuring a heavyweight main event between Alistair Overeem and Alexander Volkov.
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