Advertisement

Netflix’s Bela Bajaria & Brandon Riegg On WWE Deal & Programming For Audience Of Half-Billion

Netflix is coming off a big last week. The streamer kicked off its Q4 earnings day last Tuesday by announcing a landmark 10-year deal with TKO Group Holdings for WWE‘s Monday Night Raw valued at an estimated $5 billion. Hours later, Netflix released strong fourth-quarter results to end 2023 with more than 260 million subscribers worldwide.

Two days later, a lawsuit raised disturbing allegations of rape, sex trafficking and more against Vince McMahon, the former majority owner of WWE who has been the face of the league for decades. Within 36 hours, McMahon was out as executive chairman of WWE parent company TKO Group Holdings amid whispers of pressure from TKO’s newest media partner, Netflix.

More from Deadline

During an exclusive Next on Netflix press event last night, Chief Content Officer Bela Bajaria was asked whether the streamer has concerns about the horrific accusations against McMahon who had previously paid more than $12M to women over alleged sexual misconduct.

“Well, Vince McMahon, he’s gone,” she said, adding, “He’s not there. He’s gone.”

RELATED: ‘Bridgerton’ & ‘Squid Game’: Netflix Unveils First Footage Of Upcoming Seasons

Netflix’s VP of Nonfiction Brandon Riegg spoke about the upside they expect from Raw and additional WWE content that the deal will provide when it starts in 2025.

“It’s a great entertainment product so having something that we can have on weekly 52 weeks a year,” he said. “It has a very passionate, dedicated fanbase and I think many of those we have on Netflix as members already. The beauty, to me, is they’re going to be able to tap into a much larger audience… So introducing it to a new set of fans as well as servicing existing fans that were either already Netflix subscribers or will come over. Either way is a win. The truth is we don’t know how much bigger it can get. I think we’re all really bullish on it.”

Bajaria noted that WWE content “has been very under-distributed outside the US,” adding, “I think there’s really great opportunity to still grow it outside the U.S.”

RELATED: Netflix’s Bela Bajaria On Whether More Theatrical Is In Streamer’s Future: “It’s Just Not Our Business”

Asked about the WWE package’s $5B price tag over 10 years, which will eat into the streamer’s $17B a year content budget, Bajaria put that number in perspective.

“It’s three hours, weekly, 52 weeks live programming a year so if you look at what percentage of the budget that is, it’s actually really very small,” she said. “So you can think of it as a couple movies and a series or a couple of series and a movie.”

In her opening remarks, Bajaria noted the 260 million subscribing household milestone from last week, which she estimated translates into an audience of at least half a billion.

“No entertainment company has tried to program with this ambition — for this many tastes, cultures and languages. Ever,” she said. “It’s why at Netflix we can’t define ourselves narrowly, even though many of you would always like us to. But we can’t. We have to think much more broadly about who’s watching and what they want.

“And so when I think about our programming strategy, I think about variety and quality,” Bajaria added. “The need to make a lot of shows and movies that appeal to many different tastes and interests — and to make them great.”

While Netflix has been a major awards player from the start, chasing Oscars and Emmys, Bajaria stressed that their goal is to “make things that audiences will love.”

“Because if they don’t like a film or TV show, they just turn it off within minutes, or worse … go to Disney+.”

Best of Deadline

Sign up for Deadline's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.