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Sports entertainment giant WWE has struck a deal with media powerhouse MBC Group that makes the latter’s streaming service Shahid “the new home of WWE” in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the companies said on Wednesday.
The Saudi government owns a majority stake in MBC Group.
“The partnership includes all WWE premium live events, kicking off with WrestleMania 38 on April 3 and April 4, live episodes of Raw and SmackDown, as well as WWE Network’s vast library of original programming and archived content,” the companies said. “Additionally, MBC Action, a free-to-air television channel by MBC Group, will broadcast one-hour highlight versions of Raw and SmackDown each week, in addition to WWE magazine shows Afterburn and Main Event.”
Financial and other terms of the long-awaited MENA deal weren’t disclosed. WWE had a distribution agreement for the region with pay TV giant OSN until 2019, but a new arrangement kept getting delayed. “We do believe that if a deal is ultimately signed (especially one that involves the Saudis), it could be worth low tens of millions of dollars on an annualized basis (at a very high 90 percent-plus incremental margin),” Guggenheim analyst Curry Baker wrote in a November report.
“MBC Group is a market leader in the region and a great partner for WWE,” WWE president Nick Khan said on Wednesday. “By delivering our premium live events, including WrestleMania and SummerSlam, our weekly programming, including Raw and SmackDown, as well as WWE’s massive library, we believe we will expand our reach throughout the Middle East and North Africa.”
Natasha Hemingway, chief commercial and marketing officer at Shahid, added: “It’s no secret that WWE is massively popular in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the MENA region. This new partnership is sure to be incredibly exciting for fans, and with more and more live sporting events – including WWE – coming to the Kingdom, we cannot wait to see where this partnership takes us.”
In addition to the weekly programming, Shahid will launch a dedicated WWE channel, “making the entire WWE Network archive — more than 10,000 hours of content — available to stream on demand,” the partners said. “The new WWE destination on Shahid will allow fans to browse and access the entire library, including (weekly show) NXT, airing (the) next day following the U.S. broadcast.”
MBC Group, headquartered in Dubai, operates Shahid, TV networks and production arm MBC Studios, among other businesses. Stamford, Connecticut-based WWE, led by CEO Vince McMahon, in late 2019 extended a partnership with Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority for live events in the kingdom through 2027.
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