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Facebook is paying WWE to stream some professional wrestling

  • The pro wrestling company signed a deal with Facebook to stream a new "single-elimination mixed tag-team tournament" directly on the social network.
  • These are not the highly touted pay-per-view matches that WWE is known for, but the company is still rolling out some of its biggest stars.
  • Facebook is paying WWE for a dozen 20-minute episodes.
Sin Cara jumps during to the WWE Live Duesseldorf event at ISS Dome on February 22, 2017 in Duesseldorf, Germany.
Lukas Schulze | Bongarts | Getty Images
Sin Cara jumps during to the WWE Live Duesseldorf event at ISS Dome on February 22, 2017 in Duesseldorf, Germany.

WWE is coming to Facebook.

The pro wrestling company signed a deal with Facebook to stream a new "single-elimination mixed tag-team tournament" directly on the social network. That means WWE will feature tag-team matches — one male and one female wrestler per team — for 12 straight weeks.

These are not the highly touted pay-per-view matches that WWE is known for, but the company is still rolling out some of its biggest stars, like Jimmy Uso and Natalya. (Uso has more than four million Facebook followers, for example.) Facebook is paying WWE for a dozen 20-minute episodes, but a company spokesperson declined to share financial terms of the deal.

As with the other professional content Facebook has acquired, these WWE matches will exist inside Facebook Watch, the company's new video tab. Facebook has been paying publishers to create exclusive shows for the service, and has also been paying for streaming rights for sporting events, like college basketball games. The hope is that Facebook becomes a video destination, not just a place people stumble across video while looking at their friends' vacation photos.

The WWE deal is interesting for a few reasons, though:

  1. WWE is sneaky popular. At least four of the wrestlers on the docket to participate in this new tournament have more than two million followers apiece on Facebook. For comparison, NFL star quarterbacks like Russell Wilson (Seahawks) and Drew Brees (Saints) have about two million followers each.
  2. WWE is going to create the program with feedback from Facebook users. Fans will "select match-ups and match stipulations," according to a WWE press release. It sounds like a "choose your own adventure"-style program, and if it's a hit, you might see more shows using the same approach as a way to engage viewers.

The first episode is set to air on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018.

By Kurt Wagner, Recode.net.

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