This time last year, several major WWE shows started popping up on Hulu’s expiring page, indicating that the shows would soon be leaving the platform. However, the shows didn’t end up expiring as in November, the WWE announced that they had signed a short-term extension to keep its major shows, such as RAW and NXT, on Hulu in order to allow the WWE to align the timings of its rights and windows for renewal discussions in 2023.
And now, once again, within the Hulu app, it’s showing that the next-day streaming rights to the popular WWE shows, including Raw, NXT, Main Event, Superstars, Level Up, WWE en Español, 205 Live, Total Divas, and Total Bellas, are set to expire early next week on either Monday, 25th or Tuesday, 26th September 2023.
It was also confirmed on social media by Hulu’s online support, when asked about the WWE shows leaving Hulu, to which they replied:
“Hulu here! Our streaming rights to WWE content are currently set to expire, but we’ll certainly share your interest in seeing them stay in our library with our team. For now, we suggest adding the shows in your My Stuff to be notified of any updates!”
It’s possible that Disney and the WWE could, just like last year, sign another short-term deal, since the WWE would likely want to tie up the streaming rights with its new shows in 2024.
However, many things have changed for both companies since last year. Only this month, the WWE merged with the UFC to create a brand new company, TKO. While Disney is trying to save money and reduce the amount of content it licenses for Hulu. So letting an existing deal expire could save them some issues, especially with plans to add selected Hulu content into Disney+ later this year, once it completes its purchase of Comcast’s stake in Hulu.
It’s also worth noting that Comcast has a long-running deal to have access to most of the WWE’s streaming catalogue for Peacock and has just signed a new deal earlier this week to move Smackdown from FOX to Comcast’s US Network for a multi-year deal. Currently, Disney has a sub-licensing deal with FOX to access Smackdown episodes, so that new deal will see Smackdown episodes leave next year as well.
The WWE is also now shopping RAW around to different networks, since its current deal with US Network is due to expire, and Disney is also showing interest in obtaining the rights to the show. But it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Comcast try to keep the RAW rights, to complete the full set. And it also wouldn’t be a big surprise to see the WWE content shift from Hulu to Peacock.
Ultimately, at the moment, we will just have to see if the WWE content is actually removed from Hulu next week, as last year, Disney and the WWE did come to a short-term deal at the last minute, however this year, it wouldn’t be a big surprise if Disney just let the deal expire.
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