As was announced early Wednesday morning, All Elite Wrestling (AEW) has landed a major television deal with Time Warner. WarnerMedia has announced that they have entered into a partnership with AEW to air a weekly tv series based around AEW’s wrestling shows. Stars will include Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, Hangman Page and Chris Jericho, among others.
The official announcement that was made at the WarnerMedia Upfronts included:
“Later this year, WarnerMedia will provide exclusive multi-platform access for fans to watch AEW events, airing live weekly matches on TNT in prime time, as well as streaming them through WarnerMedia’s B/R Live and on pay-per-view. A leading digital sports enterprise, B/R Live’s high fan engagement will provide an invaluable opportunity to build AEW’s audience.”
Executive Vice President of Commercial Operations, Content Strategy and Monetization for WarnerMedia, Michael Quigley said of AEW, “All Elite Wrestling is a talent-forward, fan-first league whose inclusive approach to creating high-quality athletic wrestling competitions is already making waves with fans and attracting top-tier wrestlers.” He added that they can’t wait to bring “the high-adrenaline, gripping entertainment” to fans everywhere.
B/R Live will stream all AEW-related events, including Double or Nothing on May 25. It will include an hour-long pre-show called “The Buy-In”, and will be available on WarnerMedia and AEW social channels.
One of the interesting things the company will do once the tv program starts to air, and Tony Khan (AEW President and CEO) alluded to it in an earlier interview, is present statistics for the first time ever in wrestling. They will track each competitor’s wins and losses, analyze their moves, assess damage to their opponents, and provide insights into their winning streaks.
It will be interesting to see how much fans get into that side of the business, a side that’s never really been considered before.
The Good News for AEW Keeps Coming
Khan, who was also on hand at the Upfronts said:
“AEW is answering the call. AEW is about more than wrestling. It’s about a movement fueled by wrestling fans who have been underserved and perhaps even disappointed by what the industry has produced in recent years. AEW is rising to the occasion with DOUBLE OR NOTHING and today taking it a step further by partnering with WarnerMedia, which is as committed as we are to making wrestling fans the one and only priority. With WarnerMedia, AEW is poised globally to redefine wrestling as we know it today.”
This announcement comes not long after the company announced a deal with ITV in the United Kingdom.
Look Out WWE
While a small portion of avid wrestling fans have been following what AEW does closely, it has still only been a small percentage of wrestling fans that would have left WWE or considered AEW as an alternative. This is the first piece of news that should have WWE concerned.
Speculation is that the program will air Tuesday or Wednesday nights from 8 pm-10 pm and, as such, not be direct tv competition for WWE but landing this TV deal with TNT moves AEW out of the underground and onto the main stage. It won’t take long before even non-crazed wrestling fans know what AEW is.
Chris Jericho said of the deal announced Wednesday, “Congrats to @allelitewrestling for signing a HUGE television contract w @tntdrama & @warnermediagroup! But don’t forget why this monumental TV deal was signed…”
As for TNT, they simply said, “We’re back in the wrestling business!” #AEW @AEWrestling And, while WWE used to say of Ted Turner and his deal with WCW, “Great, you be in the wrestling business Ted, we’ll be in the entertainment business.’, this may be one time being in the “wrestling business” is best for business.
What Cody Had to Say of the AEW TV Deal
Cody Rhodes spoke to Variety about the deal with TNT and WarnerMedia and discussed his own decade-long run with WWE. Saying he enjoyed his time in WWE, he felt that “it wasn’t wrestling.” This won’t be an issue for AEW a company that has promised to focus on producing fast-paced, high-impact matches, with less scripted and soapy drama.
“[As] much as I say [WWE] was a wonderful job, it wasn’t wrestling,” Rhodes admitted… The sports-centric element of the industry that doesn’t exist really anywhere else currently. We have the opportunity to seize that.”
AEW stated that wrestlers will also be given more freedom to explore their characters and highlight their athletic abilities.
Cody also said that while AEW will be competing with WWE, they won’t be focused on what WWE is doing. AEW will only focus on their own product, their own numbers and their own ideas. He called competition good for everyone.