INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS: GFW President Ed Nordholm talks about Jeff Jarrett situation, future of Impact Wrestling

Global Force Wrestling President Ed Nordholm was on Wrestling Observer Radio to talk to Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez regarding the recent rumours surrounding GFW’s sale and WWE purchasing the library. The following are highlights provided to PWTorch by Himanshu D…

•On how the company is going to be restructured going forward: “The good thing that came with Jeff was he brought in some good young guys. Sonjay Dutt and Scott D’Amore, they’re guys that are totally plugged into the independent wrestling scene and the Japanese wrestling scene and the style of wrestling they’re selling today. So frankly, as unfortunate as it is that Jeff’s not available to us right now, his lieutenants are there, they’re excited to have their moment in the sun, they’re going to pick up the ball and run with it, and I think you’ll see a somewhat different style because they’re more tuned into an action-style wrestling and probably a little less talk and a lot more action. But fundamentally as far as the biggest change in the short-term, I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself because I’m hopeful that Jeff has not gone long.”

•On his goals for the company: “Well number one, make it profitable. It is a challenging business and candidly, perhaps a little bit more complicated than we realised when we decided to go from being just a broadcast company to being in the content creation business, as hardcore as this is. But we knew coming in that the company had lost a lot of money last year and was losing money when we took it and we didn’t have any misapprehension that just because we put our name on the door that suddenly it was going to be profitable, that it would be a process. It’s been a year, there’s been lots of things, we’re just trying to knock them off, breaking big rocks into little rocks and my objective is at every taping, at every quarter, that we have accomplished something that is moving as closer and closer to a break-even position. And you all know there’s two ways to get there. One is to get more revenue and the other is to have less cost and find the spot in between. We’re obviously needing to grow revenue but there’s no surprises that revenue isn’t going to appear overnight. So that’s a process of rebuilding the brand and rebuilding the audience and the dollars will follow. In the meantime, just looking for ways to incrementally reduce our costs and find more efficient ways to do things, find more interesting ways to do things, and you’ll see that at every taping. We’ll do something a little bit different and we’re just trying things and what’s working and what’s not working and reassess and retool.”

•On spending money to make money: “People who are talking that we are selling the company, that’s wrong. We are investing in the company. We’re investing every month, and some things that don’t work, you let them go by. If we have to invest where we can see there’s a revenue opportunity off it and that revenue line, it may not be here today but we can see that it’s worth the money spent to get there, then we’ll do it.”

•On the Global Wrestling Network streaming service: “Well I think of it as the alternative wrestling network, it has our ambition. We’re obviously a long way to get there. We’ll launch with our own content. We have a nearly 3,000 hour library and of that about 850 hours of it is up, ingested and ready to go. So when we launch next week, there will be about 850-900 hours of Impact content available. But do expect in the very near future to be bringing on our partners as well. It’s not branded as an Impact app because we want it to be a generic place where, whether it be AAA or NOAH or if we can persuade New Japan or anybody, that we can find a place that will have an efficient place for the aggregation of wrestling content that’s not related to the WWE.

“Obviously the tentpole is the library we have. It’s a large library and what we also have is, not going to pretend that we have the digital footprint as the main provider of wrestling content in the industry, but we do have a billion views, a million subscriber YouTube channel and a lot of content available as a tentpole piece that others can leverage off. And it should help everybody if we can sort of aggregate ourselves, our audiences across a platform, all boats should rise off that. We look at our TV deal in much the same way. The way I look at Pop TV, I think that’s a great platform for us. We’ve got a national broadcast license that they’re successfully making the transition away from the TV Guide channel and they’re getting themselves into hi-def and they’re getting themselves into OTT applications slowly but surely are increasing their presence and it’s a place where our partners that are working with us, we can all sort of get advantage of that ability to get exposure to a broader audience.”

•On the platforms GWN will be available on: “At launch, it’ll just be the big iOS, Android and web-based application. We’re working our process for Apple TV, Roku and all the other platforms. The app that we are basically building at office is the Fight Network and FNTSY Sports apps that we already have so we know those are pretty broadly distributed into the various platforms but just the process for getting approvals for all that just takes a lot longer. We wanted to get the app out and in phase two we’ll start building it into the conventional smart TVs and other distribution channels.”

•On the price of the Global Wrestling Network: “It’s $7.99 a month basic subscription, 30 days free. There will be a free tier and a pay wall tier. Most of the content will be in the pay tier. It’s hard to make a business work in the digital world off free stuff, off an ad-based product. There will be stuff available on the free tier but mostly you’ll want to go into the pay tier if you want to see the archive.”

•On which tier Impact will be available on the Global Wrestling Network: “In North America, it will be available in the free tier 10 days after it’s aired on Pop.”

•On the challenges of building relationships with companies around the world: “Easily the biggest challenge has been the history of the company, the history of the brand and some poor experiences that many international partners have had working with the company in the past. So there’s certainly a hurdle to cross, just “show me first”. That’s easily the biggest challenge in these deals and then obviously some of the people that you’d like to have arrangements with have pre-existing arrangements that we would have to be mindful of and respect that they’re not going to turn around on years and years of relationship just because we showed up in town and said “new owners, new style, come to us”. We know it’s a process of building trust and building respect but we’re committed to doing that.”

•On the likelihood of Anthem selling the TNA library to WWE: “I know full well how the WWE Network would monetize the content and what they could pay for the library. Monetizing it there makes no sense for me to sell it for that kind of price. I would rather keep it and put it up on the app and monetize it myself. That’s the outcome that arises if the decision had been that, “Sh–, we don’t want to be in the wrestling business, shutter down and what do we do with that asset on the liquidation sale.” We’re investing in this company, we’re growing it, we know it’s not going to turn around tomorrow. Selling the library is not on our cards.”

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