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As anticipated, Anthem Sports & Entertainment Corp. announced today that it is purchasing majority interest in TNA Impact Wrestling. It says it has “formed Anthem Wrestling Exhibitions” to be the parent company, in effect, of TNA Impact Wrestling. This follows a battle for ownership with Bill Corgan, who had helped fund TNA during difficult financial times in 2016. This purchase by Anthem gives TNA a new chapter in its decade-and-a-half existence, beginning as a start up company launched by longtime Nashville-based wrestling promoter Jerry Jarrett and his son, former WCW headliner, Jeff Jarrett. Dixie Carter’s family company, Panda Energy, purchased TNA from the Jarretts. After years of money losses and downgrades in revenue and TV audience levels, TNA was in need of a new influx of cash or a new ownership group to keep it afloat.
Anthem owns Fight Network, a 24/7 multi-platform channel based in Canada specializing in combat sports. Fight Network has been the exclusive home of TNA programming in Canada.
“We are thrilled to have acquired TNA Impact Wrestling,” said Ed Nordholm, Executive Vice President of Anthem Sports & Entertainment Corp., the parent of Fight Network, in a prepared statement. “As we grow Anthem’s linear, digital, and mobile platforms globally, top tier content with global appeal is key to that success and this acquisition is a perfect strategic addition to our portfolio. Impact has been a dominant wrestling brand around the world for more than a decade and we are confident that Anthem can leverage its assets and strategic partnerships to take Impact Wrestling to even greater heights.”
The press release notes that Nordholm, who has been the managing director of the Impact Ventures Board of Managers since October 2016, will assume the position of President of Anthem Wrestling Exhibitions, LLC. Dixie Carter will resign from her position as Chairman of Impact Ventures and join the Advisory Board of Fight Media Group, which holds all of the combat sports-related assets of Anthem, where her focus will be on the global growth of the combat sports-related brands owned by Anthem.
“Anthem has been a great partner for many years,” added Dixie Carter in the press release. “We have worked hard to find the right company who would acquire TNA, use its strategic influence, and have a long-term commitment to the brand. TNA’s incredible fans, talent, and staff deserved to see the brand continue to thrive after 15+ years of incredible growth. I’m excited to move to a new position and work with Anthem on their global strategic plan, and I am confident TNA IMPACT Wrestling is going to be a huge part of their success.”
Ms. Carter will remain a minority equity stakeholder.
TNA launches a new season of Impact tomorrow night on Pop TV with a program that will be taped shortly before it airs nationally.
Keller’s Analysis: TNA had a solid year on air, but turmoil behind the scenes. I’m curious to see the changes in the product starting tomorrow night, now without Billy Corgan or Dave Lagana on the creative team. It’s just too early to tell how this will affect TNA’s product, the relationship and pay of the wrestlers, the potential changes in who gets pushed on TV, and of course the overall creative direction and tone of the product. Stay tuned. It should presumably add some financial stability. Pop TV becoming available on Hulu’s new live streaming service later this year can make a big difference for TNA viewership each week, also. As one of Pop TV’s higher rated shows, perhaps the increased audience via Hulu will lead to Anthem receiving more programming money for new year-round episodes of Impact for Pop. Finding sustainable revenue streams to pay for Impact programming is essential for the long-term viability of the brand.