NBC is trying to get into the streaming game with their service Peacock. As with every streaming service, so much of what attracts users to a subscription has to do with the content that is available. With the NBC/Universal library mostly at its disposal, there is definitely a ton of material to work with. However, more content is always a good thing to have and a major acquisition occurred that would help put the fledgling streaming service on the map. However, it has also given them a lot of control over that acquired content and it turns out that they are exerting that control by censoring or even flat-out removing parts of this storied empire.
World Wrestling Entertainment – often known by the abbreviation WWE – decided to end its standalone streaming service, WWE Network, and sell its library to NBC/Universal so that it could be part of the premium tier for Peacock subscribers. This seemed like a great get for the streaming service and WWE since it would put their decades of material on a more widely utilized streaming service. However, many fans have been combing through the currently uploaded material and have found that segments have been either censored or completely cut out from past broadcasts. One of the most notable excisions is from WrestleMania VI in which Roddy Piper painted half of his face black when he went up against Bad News Brown, a Black wrestler. There was a promo segment with Piper and a full match but both of those have been totally removed from the copy of WrestleMania VI available on NBC’s Peacock.
Another moment that has been jettisoned is an infamous backstage skit where WWE owner Vince McMahon (playing a fictionalized version of himself) casually drops the “n” word. Fans are searching for other moments that have been altered or cut out, and many believe this will be the standard practice for NBC when it comes to the decades of WWE content they plan to migrate over from the WWE Network. It should be noted that these segments were presented uncensored when they were available on the WWE Network.
Many are worried that NBC is setting a dangerous precedent when it comes to erasing more problematic elements of WWE’s history. HBO Max and Disney+ have dealt with questionable material from the past on their services by putting up a content warning/explanation for the material instead of editing it completely. Whether or not Peacock will go a similar route with the WWE material remains to be seen. Or will they simply continue to delete these segments in total without alerting the viewer that the footage has been altered from its original broadcast?
WWE fans are not happy and they question just how NBC will even be able to feature some content from the infamous Attitude Era, a period in WWE’s history that was rampant with envelope-pushing and sometimes purposefully offensive material. There is still a lot of material that has to make its way over from the WWE Network before that service cancels its availability on April 4. The question is just how much material will be changed or omitted by the time it reaches Peacock.