The Netflix Pivot Is Complete

Just a few years in the past, Netflix fine-tuned its components for fulfillment: authentic content material, no stay TV, no adverts, and an unequalled library of films and collection that it may well air throughout the globe. As lately as final yr, it principally caught to that plan. But because the streaming wars have developed, the corporate has more and more welcomed different peoples’ motion pictures and reveals onto its platform. And after dabbling in livestreaming with a Chris Rock particular, a brand new take care of WWE to stream Monday Night Raw for the subsequent 10 years reveals simply how completely Netflix has rewritten its personal rulebook.

Today, Netflix introduced it will likely be the brand new residence of Raw starting in 2025. The deal will reportedly value Netflix $5 billion over its lifetime. Coupled with a current improve within the variety of reveals its licensing from sometimes-competitors, and its current introduction of ad-supported tiers, the transfer demonstrates that Netflix’s new recipe appears to be like extra like: authentic content material, outdated episodes of Suits, and even sports activities—or at the least, the “sports entertainment” that WWE focuses on.

Netflix’s play right here may be very on development. For months now streaming companies have been vying to fill up on stay sports activities choices. Amazon wager large—like $1 billion per yr for 11 years large—on the NFL’s Thursday Night Football video games. Apple TV+ is all in on Major League Soccer. Hulu, as a result of it shares a mother or father with ESPN, has been providing sports activities through Hulu + Live TV. Last fall, Max introduced a partnership with Bleacher Report to supply a sports activities add-on that permits customers to observe the video games Warner Bros. Discovery presents by way of its TBS and TNT community (learn: NBA and NHL video games). This yr’s Super Bowl shall be streamed on Paramount+. The record is lengthy.

Sports, nonetheless, are simply a part of the about-face Netflix is pulling—and it’s not the one one. In the early years of streaming, Netflix grew its subscriber numbers with assist from content material it licensed from different studios: The Office, Friends. In response to these studios forming their very own streaming companies—and to get round international licensing points—Netflix went full-throttle on originals.

Last yr, that tide turned again. Warner Bros. Discovery licensed HBO reveals like Insecure and Six Feet Under to Netflix. Disney licensed some reveals to the streamer too. And Netflix wanted them. Netflix spends roughly $17 billion on content material, each authentic and licensed, per yr, however an excessive amount of the hours spent watching are nonetheless spent on licensed properties. Netflix originals have gained floor lately, comprising 53 % of whole collection viewing time on the platform in 2022, up from 22 % in 2017. But authentic content material is extra of a bet than a identified amount like Suits, and Netflix-produced motion pictures particularly have had a combined document of success.

Going into 2024, it appears to be like as if licensing is “in vogue again,” as Warner Bros. Discovery content material gross sales head David Decker informed The New York Times. Studios received cash for his or her reveals, Netflix received these reveals in entrance of viewers. John Mass, president of funding fund Content Partners, informed The Los Angeles Times in December that the streaming wars had been over, “and Netflix has come out on top.”