AEW TV deal: Weekly show to air live on TNT with Turner also streaming pay-per-views
All Elite Wrestling and Turner have finalized an agreement that gives WWE some legitimate competition
All Elite Wrestling and Turner have agreed to air a weekly AEW television show to air on TNT. An announcement was made on Wednesday ahead of the Turner upfront event, which comes 10 days before AEW's debut event, the "Double or Nothing" pay-per-view.
While there have been other wrestling promotions with national television aside from WWE since the fall of WCW in 2001, AEW stands as the first company with major financial backing to take a swing at beginning to compete with WWE on a major level in nearly two decades.
The AEW TV show will air live weekly in prime time beginning in the fall. Beyond that, no additional details were released, including the potential name, length, time slot or day of the week the program will air. AEW does have a trademark for "Tuesday Night Dynamite."
Additionally, AEW special events will be available exclusive digitally through Turner's B/R Live platform along with traditional pay-per-view. The first such event will be Double or Nothing on Saturday, May 25 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Financial details deal were not disclosed as AEW is not a publicly traded company.
What the press release from AEW and TNT did reveal is the brand's mission, which is to offer fans a product that is "less scripted, soapy drama, and more athleticism and real sports analytics, bringing a legitimacy to wrestling. ... Wrestlers will also be given more freedom to explore their characters and highlight their athletic abilities." Other innovations include "introducing statistics to wrestling for the first time ever," such as "... tracking each competitor's wins and losses as the wrestlers pursue championships, analyzing their moves, assessing damage to their opponents, and providing insights into their winning streaks."
The move, which brings AEW to the former home of WCW, was announced by TNT's Twitter account with a quote hearkening back to Ted Turner infamously telling investors he was "getting into the wrasslin' business." The image used also brought visions of the former WCW Monday Nitro logo.
"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," said Michael Quigley, executive vice president of TBS and TNT, in the press release. "It is high-adrenaline, gripping entertainment and we can't wait to bring it to fans everywhere with this game-changing new business."
Added AEW president and CEO Tony Khan: "Wrestling fans have wanted -- and needed -- something different, authentic and better for far too long. 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 poised globally to redefine wrestling as we know it today."
WWE in June agreed to a five-year, reportedly $1 billion deal with FOX to air SmackDown on the broadcast network beginning on Oct. 4, 2019. The show, which had long been WWE's second behind Raw, will move from Tuesday to Friday nights and continue airing live in a two-hour window from 8-10 p.m. ET. It will be the first time WWE will have weekly programming on a broadcast network since 2006 (SmackDown on UPN).
That scheduling change for WWE SmackDown opens Tuesday night to a potential AEW show as it would not be ideal for it to go head-to-head with a main WWE program. However, WWE will be replacing its Tuesday offerings with a studio show that will air on FS1 that night.
WWE also agreed to a five-year extension with USA Network to air Raw, the company's longest-running signature TV show. Financial terms of that agreement were not disclosed, but considering the program is three hours, it is expected that they are similar to the Fox deal.
Key members of AEW were expected to be in attendance at the Turner upfront at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.
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