During a major transition period for TNA, the company has moved its TV production operations to a new studio location called Skyway Studios in Nashville, reports The Tennessean newspaper.
TNA has moved out if its long-time office location at the Cummins Station business district in Downtown Nashville.
The newspaper reports that about 15 TNA executive staff members are now working out of the merchandise warehouse facility on the outskirts of town.
Meanwhile, TNA needed a home for TV post-production to keep their shows flowing both domestically on Pop and internationally after moving out of their office.
Enter Skyway Studios, which is a new full-service studio in Nashville that is trying to lure in businesses to film and produce content. The investors in the project expanded on a previous studio location to create a massive property that can house small-scale to large-scale TV, movie, and other entertainment projects.
As part of moving their TV production to Skyway, TNA was able to lower expenses by cutting overhead from their office location.
According to TNA’s financial executive Dean Broadhead, TNA will be using the space for satellite upload of their TV shows, new TV production technology, and the studio space to film content in post-production.
“’Impact Wrestling’ is a well-known brand producing and delivering hundreds of hours of original content each year to millions of fans around the world, and we are pleased that they chose to house their operations at our facility,” said Julie Stadler, CEO and owner of Skyway Studios, referring to the company by the name of its TV show.
Our new home for @IMPACTWRESTLING
— John Gaburick (@JohnGaburick) April 28, 2016
The overarching issue, though, is whether TNA can obtain investment funding to keep the company going. TNA spokesman Eric Barnes declined to comment to the newspaper on TNA’s active search for new investors.
Barnes did say TNA is looking for new office space in the Brentwood or Green Hills neighborhoods in Nashville.
Not mentioned by the newspaper is the role of another Nashville-area company Aroluxe, a small media company based in Brentwood that provides services ranging from TV Production to marketing strategy to web advertising.
The Harris Twins (Ron & Don Harris) are executives with the company and essentially took over the behind-the-scenes production operations at TV tapings. TNA partnered with AO1 Productions last year to handle production, but the relationship soured very quickly.
As of the beginning of this year, the Harris Twins took over as the new agents trying to get production workers paid on time through their company.
It was rumored that Aroluxe was considering going beyond their TV production work through the Harris Twins to being a key investor/financier for TNA.
This follows country music star Toby Keith dropping out of consideration, per close friend Jim Ross in a blog at jrsbarbq.com earlier this month, because of various qualifications TNA management placed in the terms of a potential deal.
Aroluxe was formed in 2014 as part of a merger between a marketing company and health services provider. One of their first big tasks was “repositioning” the Segway product in the marketplace and trying to re-engage people in the brand using social media.
The interesting back-story on the Segway deal is that Brentw00d-based Summit Strategic Investments CEO Roger Brown acquired the product in 2013. Brown’s brother, Jason Brown, works for Aroluxe. After Aroluxe propped up Segway through their brand repositioning strategy, Roger Brown sold Segway in 2015.
According to a newspaper profile in 2015, Roger Brown said he has completed 50 merger & acquisition transactions in the past 17 years of business operations.
According to VentureNashville.com, “a directory of M&A professionals online suggests Brown’s targets typically have under $100 MM enterprise value, and includes small bolt-on deals.” In Brown’s words, he targets companies that are “asset rich, with anemic cash flow.”
Enter TNA. Brown’s SSI company is reportedly interested in investing in TNA through the connection to Brown’s brother, Jason, at Aroluxe. Pro Wrestling Sheet reported last week that SSI was interested in buying a stake in TNA, but it’s unclear how much. The idea being SSI would handle the financing aspect and Aroluxe would handle the core TV operations and likely the marketing aspect to get TNA up and running again.
Aroluxe’s marketing success with Segway was spearheaded by their executive team. Earlier this year, Aroluxe officially named advertising veteran David Johnson to the CEO role. Johnson has been tasked with developing new businesses such as the Segway project.
“I’m excited about this opportunity and the team that we have built at Aroluxe,” Johnson said in a January press release. “We have surrounded ourselves with top tier talent [and have] built a tremendous infrastructure. We’re poised for excellent growth in 2016. And with a few new key strategic partnerships in place, I’m confident in our ability to continue our success.”
Is TNA one of those “new strategic partnerships?” Johnson’s background is as interesting part of the story.
Johnson was a senior account executive at Sinclair Broadcasting Group (parent company of Ring of Honor) from March 2002 until October 2013. He then became managing partner of the Ela Lux Media company in November 2013.
Ela Lux was the marketing company that merged with the health care company Intell.io to form Aroluxe. Johnson oversaw operations of the new company until officially being named CEO in January.
Earlier this year, Sinclair Broadcasting was rumored to be interested in investing in TNA, especially after acquiring the Tennis Channel and lining up a potential re-branding for the network. ROH and TNA programming were tied at the hip on Destination America in 2015 and now on Fight Network in 2016.
However, at this stage, it seems unlikely that Sinclair has actual interest in investing in TNA’s operations, despite the connection to former employee Johnson and rumors of kicking the tires on a potential investment.
UPDATE: Since the report on Tuesday morning, PWTorch has learned that Sinclair has renewed interest in investing in TNA. The company was not impressed by the initial offer earlier this year. However, a second set of talks has made Sinclair interested again after TNA submitted a better offer. The recent development makes them a key player in the mix along with SSI.
The big question is how much capital Aroluxe has available to invest in TNA. Since TNA is a privately held company, it’s unclear what their market value is. But, with revenue streams drying up from running domestic PPVs infrequently, negotiating a shared-revenue TV deal with Pop, and trying to keep international TV deals in-place, it’s apparent TNA needs outside help to keep the company going, even after cutting expenses by moving out of their office.
SSI’s Roger Brown targets smaller companies with a track-record or potential upside, making it seem like SSI would provide the financing and Aroluxe would provide TV & marketing services, such as re-branding TNA by moving away from the “TNA” acronym.
“As I’ve said before, it may be best for the company to re-brand themselves and move on from the public perception that the brand currently has in the marketplace,” wrote Jim Ross in detailing TNA’s previous talks with Toby Keith. “New name..new philosophy..new approach to their presentation based on the talents that they have to work with on a regular basis.”
Aroluxe’s history of revitalizing brands like Segway, their connection to TNA through the Harris Brothers, and a potential investment by SSI appears to be the strategy going forward – if a deal goes through. Without the deal, it sounds like TNA will be strapped for cash going forward.
“Apparently a new investor or buyer is at play for the struggling company,” Ross wrote earlier this month. “Without significant, live event revenue, and a viable, PPV component in the revenue mix it will not be surprising to hear of any pro wrestling company being in financial peril. I hope that the eventual fate of TNA is much different than those within the company and others close to the matter are saying. Nonetheless, it is somewhat obvious that the next few months are going to be crucial in determining the future of the company.”