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AEW to TBS – is it the right move?

“Until then, presence on TNT remains robust in 2021 with the addition of the new hour-long series “AEW: Rampage.” Debuting on August 13 at 10 p.m. ET, “AEW: Rampage” is a third hour of high-octane wrestling featuring the world renowned stars of AEW. In addition, TNT will debut four new professional wrestling specials annually, continuing to garner and grow AEW’s audience until the move to TBS in 2022”.

“And, while we’re looking forward to our arrival on TBS, we’re not saying goodbye to our original and current home of TNT, which will air four new special supercard events annually. Plus, the financial upside to our new agreement will give us the opportunity to continue to invest in and grow AEW to serve the most important people in our industry: our fans, our wrestlers, our staff and our sponsors. With All Elite Wrestling: Dynamite and Rampage taking centre stage via our new agreement on TBS next year, and the new quarterly supercards launching on TNT, our exposure and our opportunities to grow AEW are greater than ever!” (Tony Khan Busted Open Radio)

The above announcement from Tony Khan about the future of AEW, was very exciting and now we need to look to see, is this actually a good deal for AEW?

TBS currently is in more homes than TNT but honestly the difference isn’t very much.

TNT – 81.3 million

TBS – 81.8 million

This is based on Nielsen estimates. So potentially AEW will have access to more viewers than they currently do but the difference really isn’t much. If we put AEW onto TBS in its current form it would be one of the most watched regular programs on TBS.

TNT is defiantly more widely known for sports with NBA regularly and Warner just picked up the Rights to the NHL with a lot of people expecting this to be put onto TNT as well. That said TBS does have some Baseball and shows some March Madness. It appears that TBS would be able to dedicate more advertising to AEW, this is because they are not spread across different sports like TNT is.

We have also seen WWE change Smackdown to different networks and not loose their viewers so there is not any reason to believe AEW would loose viewers due to the change.

Now let us have a look at Rampage, the plan is to air it Friday nights at 10pm. This would air after Smackdown on Fridays. Smackdown is currently the most viewed show on any week, however with the show being held late on a Friday we would not expect those sorts of numbers. It will be interesting to see what sort of numbers it will do. If I have to take a guess it would be less, then what NXT is currently doing.

Tony Khan said that Rampage was going to be important and a must watch for fans. However he said this was part of the contract extension and has been in the works for awhile now, so not really part of this deal. Having this second show will add to the AEW TV rights value and give them a stronger position to negotiate when the TV rights come up.

The most interesting thing from the announcement to me is the Quarterly specials which are still going to be held on TNT. If we look at AEW currently they have a lot of Special shows, such as, Blood & Guts, Beach Break, Winter is Coming and so on. With this announcement AEW could see them reduce these shows and focus on the 4 mini PPV’s that these shows could be. The question is when would they air? While nothing specific has been said if AEW airs them between their big PPV’s it could add more chances to put those non PPV matches on these cards.

During the AEW timeslot TBS is currently airing Big Bang Theory reruns so this is going to be a huge shot in the arm for what they offer. Warner and Discovery have also announced a merger so by the time the next contract comes up things could change again. With the move it also means that AEW won’t get moved around timeslots to make way for other sports too.

Tony Khan said there was a generous financial compensation for the move as well, but since AEW is not a publicly traded company we have no idea what this actually is. However, it is rumoured to be in the eight figure region which is anywhere between $10 million and $99.99 million and anything in that ballpark is a significant boost to AEW.

This is also a win for Wrestling and Wrestling fans with the product being made available everyday of the week on major TV.

All in all, this move is a win for AEW and for Warner. This gives AEW more permanence in their timeslot and will give more access to the show. However, it’s also not that big of a deal because the viewer numbers are about the same and the age of the viewers is also the same. What will be interesting is if they will lose viewers due to not being on a more dedicated Sports channel. Only time will tell.


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