Technology

WWE Network on Peacock: your questions answered

Peacock is sharing more details today about how it will integrate WWE’s enormous selection of content later this month when WWE Network becomes part of the NBCUniversal streaming service.

As announced in January, WWE’s new portal will launch on Peacock starting on March 18th. The standalone WWE Network app will shut down in the United States a few weeks later on April 4th. That means current subscribers will be able to use the old app for WWE’s upcoming Fastlane pay-per-view this month if they want. But come WrestleMania 37, which is happening on April 10th and 11th, Peacock will be the only choice. There’s no way to transfer a WWE Network subscription over to Peacock, but the company is offering wrestling fans an exclusive deal to help ease the move.

It will look like Peacock but feel familiar to WWE fans
As for how Peacock plans to showcase WWE programming, you’ll notice a new “WWE” tab in the browse section. Once that’s selected, you’ll be shown the usual carousels of featured shows and curated events. This is all Peacock’s user interface, but the two companies are in constant communication about what content to highlight.

Peacock has said it will eventually be home to pretty much everything available on WWE Network today — but the transition isn’t going to be instant. There will be some noticeable omissions in the early days. For the March 18th launch, Peacock subscribers will get access to the following:

Every PPV event in the last calendar year; current or most recent season episodes of WWE original series Steve Austin’s The Broken Skull Sessions, WWE Chronicle, and WWE Icons; in-ring action with new weekly episodes of NXT the day after air, as well as the 2021 replays of RAW and SmackDown 30 days after air; groundbreaking documentaries, including Undertaker: The Last Ride, WWE 24, and WWE Untold; reality series, including Total Bellas; as well as collections of featured series, topical moments like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin Week, and playlists showcasing current Superstars.

You’ll be waiting a few months for all of those pay-per-views
Here’s the bad news: WWE Network’s huge vault of WWE, WCW, and ECW pay-per-views won’t be ready for day one. Instead, Peacock is promising to have all of that content available “before SummerSlam,” which is in August. That means pro wrestling fans could go several weeks without any convenient way of watching those past events since the WWE Network app will be history in the US. (The international version will continue operating just as it does today.)

The exception to this is WrestleMania; all previous WrestleMania events will be available at launch on Peacock.

Match markers are no more
Another potential disappointment to frequent WWE Network viewers is that on-demand PPVs and shows will no longer be broken up with “markers” to separate them into several different segments that are easy to skip between. Instead, each will just be one long stream. (Peacock tells me it’s working on visual scrub bar previews to help viewers find what they want when fast-forwarding through WWE videos.)

Search won’t be as comprehensive as it was on WWE Network
And last, search on Peacock won’t be as robust as it was on WWE Network. Whereas WWE Network would let you search for a specific match or WWE superstar right in the search bar, that’s not going to be the case on Peacock — at least initially. This is something fans can expect to improve in the months to come. But even then, it might not fully match what was possible on WWE Network.

Get a discount during WWE’s move to Peacock
Peacock acknowledges that there’s more work to be done to satisfy WWE Network diehards. So to help sweeten the pot, it will be offering an exclusive discount to WWE fans. They can get four months of Peacock Premium for a flat $9.99. That breaks down to $2.50 per month. Peacock Premium normally costs $4.99 monthly, which itself is still less than WWE Network’s longtime $9.99 / month subscription.

There were always going to be compromises in this Peacock and WWE tag team, and I think I’ve covered the main ones that fans care about here. Cramming a service that was tailor-made for a very specific audience into a more mainstream streaming app comes with challenges. Also, remember we’re still talking about the launch experience; it’s possible Peacock will go back and add some of this functionality if customers are vocal enough. I’m also hoping that other features WWE Network never really got around to (like offline downloads) will be made a reality on Peacock.