The Weekly Cover: Wrestling with media relevance

Last week brought a set of wrestling-fuelled media headlines, as we were subject to the good, the bad, and the downright ugly from the WWE. The company’s deal with Netflix serves as a microcosm of the wider shift going on in traditional television viewing habits right now, which in-turn itself serves as a microcosm of the wider cultural changes taking place within media at large. So join us as we go behind the kayfabe, and into the realm of revenue streams… 

The Island of Relevancy

In an age in which connection and consensus can at times appear to be in short supply, Undisputed WWE Champion Roman Reigns’ Island of Relevancy actually does a decent job of reaching into the cultural zeitgeist and pulling out something that contemporary audiences can crystalise around. This ability is clearly one that Netflix believes is intrinsic within the company at large, as it last week made what The Guardian called a $5bn bet on the future of sports entertainment and live streaming more generally.

Beginning 2025, the streaming platform will become the exclusive home for flagship WWE show Raw, with the rights also to stream other huge events like WrestleMania and RoyalRumble outside the US. The 2024 incarnation of the latter actually streamed on the WWE Network on Saturday, delivering a set of results that will now set the storyline for the run-up to the former, which will take place at the beginning of April.

Of course, much of this has been overshadowed by serious sexual misconduct allegations made against WWE founder, Vince McMahon, which also made it into the mainstream news-cycles over the weekend. McMahon has announced his immediate resignation from TKO Group Holdings – the company that now owns WWE – though stresses he will “vigorously defend” himself against the allegations.

Back in the ring and on the field

In the case of WWE Raw, it’s the first time in the show’s 31yr history that it will leave linear television, and this is important because it reflects an acceleration in the shift towards streaming. Sports is widely understood to be one of the content sectors ‘propping up’ traditional television revenues today, providing the audiences that advertisers continue to want to get in front of.

On Sunday, the NFL divisional playoff games also took place in the US, and as outlined here in The Hollywood Reporter, the Kansas City-Buffalo showdown earned record viewing figures for CBS. How long linear broadcasters are able to hold onto such content may well determine the future shape of the moving pictures industry, and we saw today on the other side of the pond that UK broadcaster Channel 4 plans to cut one fifth of its workforce and sell its London home.

A microcosm of a microcosm

As indicated at the top of this week’s Cover, the Netflix-WWE deal really represents a microcosm within a microcosm when it comes to shifting consumption – and creation – habits in media.

Three days ago, Press Gazette published its latest estimates on journalism job cuts throughout the UK, US, Ireland and Canada, identifying more than 650 losses in January of this year. The list of those believed to be cutting staff includes the likes of Forbes, Business Insider, and Time Magazine, with those in the US being hardest hit.

Interestingly though, just as that happens, new research from Omdia and published here by Variety indicates that the media and entertainment industry looks set to hit a $1 trillion dollar valuation in 2024.

Of course, the key thing to hone-in on here is the definition of ‘media and entertainment’, with sectors like online video ($345 billion), cinema ($41 billion), music ($44 billion), and games ($255 billion) said to be contributing significantly to the sector’s expansion, while the more traditional sectors of television and news mentioned above continue to struggle.

What this means for the future of media integrity, fake news, and finding consensus particularly in an online world, is perhaps another topic for another Cover. But in an article titled ‘AI deepfakes like Taylor Swift’s make trusted media brands more valuable than ever’, Fortune today does a good job in highlighting the severity, of the swiftness, of our changing media landscape.


For inPress’ part, we are delighted to this week launch a brand-new podcast called Colloquiapedia. Each week, along with a guest, we’ll take a popular word or phrase from today’s cultural zeitgeist, and attempt to make the complex comprehendible by exploring it in layman’s terms. It’s an opportunity to re-evaluate what some of the most common terms in collective language actually mean to the human brain in 2024, whilst also pulling back the curtain a little bit on what can at times appear to be a closed or convoluted media industry, and making it more accessible to consumer audiences.

The first episode, with Adam Shepherd – Editor of Campaign magazine’s sister podcast, PodPod and winner of the 2023 British Society of Magazine Editor’s (BSME) Award for Best Launch looks at the word ‘Podcast’ and is available across Apple, Spotify, Amazon, YouTube, and of course the inPress NOW!