Netflix is not only the king of streaming, but also the master of live entertainment. The company has just secured a blockbuster deal for WWE wrestling rights, adding more excitement and variety to its already impressive lineup of shows and movies.
The company added a whopping 13.1 million subscribers in the last quarter of 2023, breaking its own record and proving that its loyal fans are happy to pay for their own accounts.
The company said it wants to keep its customers satisfied by offering them more options, from live events to sports-related content and games, as well as more ads to support its massive spending on content.
Netflix ended the year with 260.28 million subscribers, a stunning 13% increase from the previous year. Its shares soared about 8% after the news.
Netflix is challenging the traditional TV networks by bringing more live programming to its platform, which attracts both advertisers and subscribers.
The company is aiming to be the ultimate source of entertainment for households around the world. “No entertainment company has ever tried to program at this scale, and for so many tastes and cultures,” Netflix wrote to its shareholders on Tuesday.
The company plans to spend as much as $17 billion on content this year.
The company’s revenue grew 12.5% from a year earlier, to $8.8 billion in the final quarter of 2023, exceeding its expectations.
Its net profit for the period rose to $938 million, slightly below its forecast of $956 million.
Its operating margin rose to 16.9% in the quarter from 7% a year earlier, above the 13.3% it projected.
Earlier on Tuesday, Netflix announced a 10-year deal worth more than $5 billion to become the new home of the hit wrestling show “WWE Raw” and other WWE shows in the U.S. and abroad.
The deal, which will start in January 2025, will give Netflix exclusive rights to the show in the U.S. and international distribution rights to “Raw” in several places including Canada, Latin America and the U.K.
Netflix may add more territories as existing rights deals expire. Netflix will also get international rights to other WWE shows, such as “Smackdown” and “NXT,” and other big events like “WrestleMania.”
NBCUniversal’s USA Network is the current rights holder for Raw, with a five-year deal worth more than $1.3 billion that doesn’t include international rights.
Netflix showcased the popularity of its films in the fourth quarter, including the animated hit, “Leo.”
Netflix’s head of content, Bela Bajaria, said “Raw” is the “best of sports entertainment” and bringing it to the service would “deliver more joy and value for their audiences and our members.”
The new rights deal “fundamentally alters and strengthens the media landscape, significantly expands the reach of WWE, and brings weekly live appointment viewing to Netflix,” said Mark Shapiro, president and chief operating officer of WWE parent TKO.
Netflix co-Chief Executive Ted Sarandos said the deal was in line with the company’s focus on sports entertainment, and that it didn’t signal a change in its strategy of largely avoiding high-profile, costly sports-rights packages.
On Monday, Netflix announced “Dinner Time with David Chang,” a multiweek live cooking show featuring the famous chef and restaurateur David Chang cooking meals for celebrities starting on Jan. 25.
Netflix is pushing the boundaries of livestreaming, as well as its moves to license more TV shows from rivals, as it faces more competition from other streaming services.