Allow me to say the days of going up the stream are here. Streaming networks, as I said years ago would take over sports. Last week Netflix continued their dominance purchasing rights to WWE programming with a 10-year, $5 billion dollar deal to stream Monday Night RAW and premium live events.
Netflix, the leading entertainment service said it will continue to boost audience and advertising revenue with the WWE, part of TKO Group Holdings, Inc. RAW will depart the USA Network where the weekly program originated 31 years ago.
Paul Levesque, (Triple H) the WWE Hall of Famer and head of creative said after their Royal Rumble premium live event streamed on Peacock, “How will it change sports and entertainment? I think the whole world sees a shifting of how people will see and view things.”
He said the WWE was the ground breaker years ago with closed circuit TV and the forefront with pay-per-view, also upstarting a successful streaming WWE Network that will cease once the Netflix programming begins in January 2025. The network was the beginning of the sports industry following in their path.
The NFL, MLB, MLS soccer, and of course boxing have all gone the streaming route and subscriptions have shown an upward trend to the streaming route. Basically, the old antenna has been long gone on television and cable networks are feeling a loss which has changed the complexion of viewing habits.
From this perspective, the streaming services have become a viewing habit with subscriptions to Peacock, Apple + TV (MLS), DAZN (Boxing), and MLB, though with T-Mobile wireless service streaming ball games are offered as one of their free services. I don’t subscribe to Amazon Prime TV and may be forced to make that addition with their venture into PBC boxing that debuts in March.
Regardless, the cable TV subscription services are on the verge here of also going out the window. The trends are there as boxing concluded a 32-year run on Showtime in December, which further indicated that streaming networks were having their takeover. HBO eliminated their log run boxing telecasts seven years ago, that was an indicator.
And I constantly ask friends and colleagues the same question? How much longer do you retain your cable service and how many streaming networks are your new viewing habits? Old school junkies like me have no alternative, more so now that sports viewing is going up the stream. And many I ask are slowly but surely doing the same.
But for those that are loyal cable subscribers, I ask, is it right? You subscribe to regional sports networks as a part of your package and MLB streams a dozen or more ballgames of your local team on Amazon Prime, Apple, and eventually Netflix will find a way.
Obviously, it is wrong. Yankees (Yes Network) and the Mets (SNY) are added services to the cable bill, yet you have to stream? Then again this is all about business and the streaming networks don’t care. Loyal fans will subscribe, streaming network revenue is on the rise, the cable networks are losing customers.
Next to YouTube which offers free services with boxing and other sports content, Netflix had over 260 million paid subscribers in 2023, netting $33.7 billion in revenue. Four years ago, the revenue was $25 billion. So, it is obvious why WWE and their stockholders jumped at their new deal.
And no different with the other streaming networks that continue to expand with sports coverage. I am including others such as Discovery and Hulu. At this juncture it is not difficult to say again that the cable industry is at a brink of extinction and all you need to do is go upstream.
More so the NFL took a stab at all of this two weeks ago with their Peacock stream of the Dolphins-Chiefs NFL Wild Card playoff game that ranked as the most watched event in the U.S. with an average audience of approximately 23 million viewers. Massive numbers and could be beginning a trend with the major sports leagues and how postseason playoff games will be televised soon. I am not talking about a five or ten year waiting period before this all evolves.
The World Series this year that involved the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks, averaged 9.11 million viewers with a 4,7 rating, the lowest average over the series that has been recorded since Nielson began their ratings barometer in 1963. Though the Super Bowl in two weeks will continue to mass numbers on CBS and their Paramount streaming service. But those numbers have continued to decline the past few years.
Though the increase this year, and what the NFL was looking for, is attributed to a Kansas City Chiefs return to the biggest sports Sunday on the calendar. You say quarterback Patrick Mahomes. I say the name Taylor Swift.
The final analysis here, and I would wager on this. Cable subscriptions continue to decline. Streaming networks will continue to profit with the sports industry. The Super Bowl, MLB World Series, NBA Finals, NHL Stanley Cup Finals, and other major sports events will be streamed via the subscription plans.
It is inevitable and sooner than you think. Stream and stream because it is here.
Rich Mancuso: X (formerly Twitter) @ Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso