It’s official: AEW has a TV deal.
As part of the deal, Turner will stream AEW pay-per-view events, including the upcoming Double Or Nothing, on its live streaming service, B/R Live. That show, and other special AEW events, will also be delivered via traditional pay-per-view.
The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed at the announcement, which was made via press release ahead of this morning’s WarnerMedia upfronts. WarnerMedia owns the Turner cable network family.
AEW wrestlers and co-executive vice presidents Cody Rhodes, the Young Bucks (Mark and Nick Jackson), and Kenny Omega were in attendance later at the upfronts. Rhodes’s wife, Brandi — AEW’s Chief Brand Officer — was also present.
The Road To The Deal
The Wrap broke the news late last week of closed-door meetings between AEW and Turner execs in advance of the upfronts that pointed to this week’s announcement. Both sides remained tight-lipped until Wednesday morning.
Speculation about where AEW would land on television has been running rampant since January. Chris Jericho mentioned on SiriusXM’s Busted Open Radio that the company was in discussions with three major TV networks.
He indicated that the presence of a potential blockbuster broadcasting deal is what led him to sign an exclusive three-year deal with All Elite.
“I wouldn’t have gone to AEW if there wasn’t a strong TV deal on the table,” Jericho said. “And there’s a couple that are on the table that are like, ‘Wow, that’s what they need.'”
The network that will soon air AEW programming might bring up some difficult memories for Vince McMahon’s fake-fighting carnival show. TNT will be a familiar destination for wrestling fans as well.
Indeed, in its announcement of the deal on Twitter, TNT used some imagery that wrestling fans are likely to recognize.
— TNT Drama (@tntdrama) May 15, 2019
During the Monday Night Wars era of the 1990s, Turner-owned World Championship Wrestling aired their flagship program on the network. WCW Monday Nitro aired head-to-head against WWE’s Monday Night Raw from 1995 until 2001, when WWE bought WCW from Turner.
The AEW show also marks the first time since 2014 that a non-WWE wrestling program has aired on a major cable network. TNA (now Impact Wrestling) aired its Impact! show on SpikeTV (now the Paramount Network) for nine years starting in 2005.
In the aforementioned press release, AEW President and CEO Tony Khan noted, “Wrestling fans have wanted — and needed — something different, authentic, and better for far too long.”
He continued, “It’s about a movement fueled by wrestling fans who have been … perhaps even disappointed by what the industry has produced in recent years.”
The WarnerMedia upfronts also took place at Madison Square Garden, long considered WWE turf. WWE had a virtual stranglehold on the arena for nearly 60 years. April’s G1 Supercard, co-produced by Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling, became the first non-WWE wrestling show at MSG since 1960.
The Road Ahead
AEW made today’s announcement as it gears up for its first major pay-per-view show, Double Or Nothing. The event will air live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on May 25 at 7 p.m. ET.
In July, the promotion will present Fight for the Fallen in the company’s home base of Jacksonville, Florida. That event is scheduled for Saturday, July 13 at Daily’s Place Amphitheater.
All images courtesy of AEW FACEBOOK.