Pop president speaks – how did TNA deal come about?, emphasis on “fandom,” more

By James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor


TNA is hopeful that their third U.S. TV home in three years and a loyal fanbase that has followed Impact to every day of the week will pay off with their new partnership with Pop TV in 2016.

One of the keys to making the relationship work will be Pop TV president Brad Schwarz, who noted in an interview with Jim Varsallone of the Miami Herald that he was a wrestling fan growing up.

“One of our taglines here is that we’re fans, too, and so what came clearly across in the [TNA] presentation – to bring this full circle – is that wrestling fans are just some of the most passionate of anything. I remember being that way myself, when I was very much into wrestling. In some ways, when you see the crowd shots at a wrestling show, that was a bigger selling point to us than the ring shots,” Schwartz said.

The marketing of “fandom” points to Pop hoping that TNA’s loyal fanbase can be parlayed into brand identity that Pop is seeking to stand out in the cable TV universe.

“When CBS bought the other half of this network and created a joint venture with Lionsgate, and then they hired me to run it, we knew we needed to re-brand the business and create something that was differentiated and fresh and new,” Schwartz said.

“When we did all our research about how to create a brand that felt different than any other brand that was out there but stay in the pop culture space, what came screaming out of all the research was this emotion of fandom. Fans today don’t sit on the outskirts of pop culture, poking fun at it. They live right in the middle of it, and they love it, and there’s an enthusiasm there, and there’s a spirit there and an optimism there.”

Schwartz noted that his channel was in the running with several other networks. He detailed how the presentation unfolded.

“TNA was actively looking for a new television partner, and I think made the rounds and met with a lot of cable networks to see where a home might be. We were on their list of calls, and they came in [about a couple of months ago], and we had our entire team meet with them and listen to the pitch and listen to what they wanted to do — where they saw the company going, where they saw [pro wrestling] going. That’s how it came to our attention,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz noted that his side of the meeting included marketing, programming, communications, and research. He said about half had an affinity for pro wrestling, and half were skeptical. However, they all came away from the presentation led by TNA president Dixie Carter wanting to get involved.

“By the end of the meeting, she had won everyone in the room over, and the next day it was unanimous, ‘Let’s do this.’ Then, it was a matter of can we get it?” he said.

Schwarz did not disclose the terms of the deal. However, now that a deal is in-place, the key will be getting on the same page with TNA on how to market the product. It sounds like Pop is going for the “Peter Pan effect” appealing to today’s consumer.

“We have a term that we actually registered for the audience that we’re targeting that we call the modern grown-ups,” Schwartz said. “It’s not really so much a demographic as it is a pyschographic. It’s people who live with emotion of youth. They want to stay connected with their emotion of youth…the heart of a fan. That emotion that comes with it. It’s not so much people in their 40s, people in their 30s, people in their 20s. It’s do you have that fandom personality, that thing that keeps you connected to the emotion of youth.”

Schwartz’s youthful connection to wrestling enticed him to pursue the deal with TNA. Now, he’s hopeful Pop and TNA can re-engage wrestling fans, especially lapsed fans, with a new approach to wrestling presentation.

It did not pan out for TNA on Destination America in 2015. Perhaps a different TV partner will produce new results, even in the face of an over-saturated wrestling market with WWE offering several hours of new weekly content on TV and on their Network.

(Part 1) Pop President Brad Schwartz discusses TNA Impact Wrestling

2 Comments on Pop president speaks – how did TNA deal come about?, emphasis on “fandom,” more

  1. After reading this, I have 2 thoughts: 1) I’ll be going to TNA’s TV tapings in Bethlehem soon. I’m 48, and I’m going with a guy I work with who’s 20. We epitomize the “fandom” idea. 2) We live midway between NYC and Philadelphia, and our cable company (one of the 3 majors in our area) doesn’t carry Pop network. How many fans can TNA migrate to a new network if the network isn’t nearly as available as even Destination America was?

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