WWE’s latest event, Wrestlemania 39, brought in record streaming numbers for Peacock.
Despite the controversial ending to Night 2 of Wrestlemania 39, followed by news of the merger with UFC, the annual event set multiple records for WWE, including merchandise sales, tickets sold, and mentions on social media. A rising tide lifts all ships, and according to Deadline, WWE also helped Peacock, the exclusive streaming home for the company in the United States, break records. Though the streamer hasn’t shared the specific numbers, overall viewership on the service jumped by 30% over Wrestlemania weekend.
Over the last decade, WWE has evolved Wrestlemania from just the “Showcase of the Immortals” to encompass an entire weekend of events, all of which were available only on Peacock. Starting with the WWE Hall of Fame on Friday, then both NXT Stand and Deliver and Wrestlemania Night 1 on Saturday, ending with Wrestlemania Night 2 on Sunday night, nearly 20 hours of exclusive content aired on the streaming service. In total, Wrestlemania itself was the most-watched live event on Peacock since the Super Bowl.
Given that NBC paid $1 billion to become the exclusive streaming home for WWE, it makes the recent numbers all the more impressive.
WWE was early to the streaming game, launching the WWE Network in early 2014, just in time for Wrestlemania 30, which allowed subscribers to watch every pay-per-view at no additional cost and included thousands of archive content from long-defunct companies. Alongside the in-ring shows, the streaming service also included original content, including a strange version of The Surreal Life starring retired performers called Legends House, and award-winning documentaries on current and past stars like Dave Bautista, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
In 2021, WWE sold the entire streaming service to NBC, and it became part of Peacock, which is why there’s that separate tab for wrestling content. When the deal took place, analysts thought Vince McMahon was making off like a bandit since the $1 billion was only for a limited number of years, but now, the wrestling side of the service is doing the heavy lifting to prop up NBC’s streamer. With streaming content becoming more and more common, live sports are more in demand than ever, and that includes the sport of professional wrestling.
USA and FOX, which air Monday Night RAW and Smackdown, respectively, also benefited from Wrestlemania weekend. Monday Night RAW had over two million tune in, with an impressive 1.0 demo rating (among 18-49-year-olds, the most coveted demographic to advertisers), while Smackdown before the event was up 20 percent from the prior week.
The problem now facing both WWE and Peacock is what comes next, especially after the heart-breaking ending that saw Cody Rhodes get screwed over in his main event match against Roman Reigns (the real-life cousin of Dwayne Johnson that had a brief part in Hobbs & Shaw). Social media is being overrun with disgruntled fans sharing “#firevince,” following reports that McMahon is back in charge of WWE Creative, so it will be interesting to see if the numbers from the next major event, Backlash, build on the momentum from Wrestlemania.
Backlash is airing May 6 from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and will feature Bad Bunny in a major role, likely his third match, against Dominick Mysterio and fellow Puerto Rican Damian Priest.