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AEW and WarnerMedia issued a press release today announcing that AEW will air live weekly on TNT in prime time later in the year. In addition to airing on TNT, AEW’s weekly programming and PPVs will will stream on B/R Live, which is also owned by WarnerMedia. AEW PPVs beginning with Double or Nothing will also air live on traditional PPV. The press release also noted that AEW would be incorporating statistics into a wrestling show for the first time ever. The press release said, “Introducing statistics to wrestling for the first time ever, AEW will raise the stakes for its matches and deepen fan engagement by tracking each competitor’s wins and losses as the wrestlers pursue championships, analyzing their moves, assessing damage to their opponents, and providing insights into their winning streaks.”
No additional details of the deal between WarnerMedia and AEW have been release in regards to financial terms, but more information about the deal is expected to be released during the WarnerMedia upfronts later today.
TNT Drama’s Twitter account tweeted about the announcement with a video featuring the familiar fire display from WCW Nitro:
— TNT Drama (@tntdrama) May 15, 2019
Cody Rhodes tweeted a picture of himself with The Young Bucks, Tony Khan, Kenny Omega, Bradi Rhodes, Britt Baker, and Hangman Page from the WarnerMedia upfronts shortly after the announcement was made:
AEW on TNT pic.twitter.com/4OvDUtonQK
— Cody Rhodes (@CodyRhodes) May 15, 2019
You can read the entire press release below:
May 15, 2019 – WarnerMedia announced today that it is partnering with All Elite Wrestling (AEW), the new professional wrestling promotion featuring a world-class roster of diverse male and female wrestlers, giving fans a new wrestling experience for the first time in 20 years. WarnerMedia and AEW together will build this powerhouse sporting league from the ground up and will begin airing weekly matches later this year. With this league, AEW is introducing a new generation of wrestlers to fans, offering fun, gripping and authentic athletic matches that will make wrestling more accessible to a broad audience. WarnerMedia will utilize its position as a next-generation global media company to build this league into a global pro-wrestling franchise.
Founded by President and CEO Tony Khan, AEW is headlined by members of The Elite, which includes all-star wrestlers The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson), Cody and Brandi Rhodes, Kenny Omega, and Hangman Page, and a roster that includes the legendary Chris Jericho. Omega, Cody and The Young Bucks also serve as executive vice presidents of the company in addition to in-ring talent, and Brandi Rhodes also serves as Chief Brand Officer.
Later this year, WarnerMedia will provide exclusive multi-platform access for fans to watch AEW events, airing live weekly matches on TNT in prime time, as well as streaming them through WarnerMedia’s B/R Live and on pay-per-view. A leading digital sports enterprise, B/R Live’s high fan engagement will provide an invaluable opportunity to build AEW’s audience.
“All Elite Wrestling is a talent-forward, fan-first league whose inclusive approach to creating high-quality athletic wrestling competitions is already making waves with fans and attracting top-tier wrestlers,” said Michael Quigley, executive vice president, commercial operations, content strategy and monetization, TBS and TNT. “It is high-adrenaline, gripping entertainment and we can’t wait to bring it to fans everywhere with this game-changing new business.”
“Wrestling fans have wanted – and needed – something different, authentic and better for far too long,” said Tony Khan, President and CEO of AEW. “AEW is answering the call. AEW is about more than wrestling. It’s about a movement fueled by wrestling fans who have been underserved and perhaps even disappointed by what the industry has produced in recent years. AEW is rising to the occasion with DOUBLE OR NOTHING and today taking it a step further by partnering with WarnerMedia, which is as committed as we are to making wrestling fans the one and only priority. With WarnerMedia, AEW is poised globally to redefine wrestling as we know it today.”
Focused on producing fast-paced, high-impact competitions, AEW offers fans less scripted, soapy drama, and more athleticism and real sports analytics, bringing a legitimacy to wrestling that it has not previously had. Wrestlers will also be given more freedom to explore their characters and highlight their athletic abilities. Introducing statistics to wrestling for the first time ever, AEW will raise the stakes for its matches and deepen fan engagement by tracking each competitor’s wins and losses as the wrestlers pursue championships, analyzing their moves, assessing damage to their opponents, and providing insights into their winning streaks.
B/R Live will serve as the exclusive digital streaming partner in the United States for AEW’s inaugural event, DOUBLE OR NOTHING, on Saturday, May 25, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. DOUBLE OR NOTHING, which sold out in under 30 minutes, features an exhilarating card including the headline clash between Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho; Cody taking on his brother Dustin Rhodes; The Young Bucks battling the Lucha Bros for the AAA World Tag Team Championship; Hangman Adam Page clashing with PAC; and Britt Baker, Nyla Rose and Kylie Rae competing in a three-way match.
Additionally, the hour-long live pre-show special THE BUY-IN will stream on WarnerMedia and AEW’s social channels. BUY-IN includes the first ever “Casino (Battle) Royale,” which will see 21 competitors including Jimmy Havoc, Billy Gunn, MJF and Jungle Boy entering the ring in waves of five wrestlers every three minutes followed by one final entrant, lucky number 21, all fighting it out in the ring until there is one winner, whose reward will be a future title shot against the first ever AEW World Champion.
The media rights deal was negotiated by Khan and Bernie Cahill, co-founder of Activist Artists Management, LLC, an entity in which Khan is also an investor and partner.
Radican’s Analysis: This is really exciting news, as AEW is the biggest threat to WWE to materialize in the last 20 years. Of course, landing on TNT in prime time is great and streaming the weekly show along with PPVs on B/R Live is a natural fit. Financial terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed and for AEW to be successful, they need a lot of money coming in to justify the cost of their roster and infrastructure.
I believe AEW still needs more star power to draw an audience in prime time on TNT. Chris Jericho is their biggest name and the company is going to need time to make stars. It’s not likely that Jericho is going to be the centerpiece of the roster every week, but he’s likely going to draw viewers to TNT as the company tries to build new The day of the week that AEW will air on still hasn’t been announced, although my best guess is that the show airs weekly on Wednesday to avoid being preempted by the NBA games that air on TNA on Tuesday night. There are other questions that need to be answered as well and some of those questions will likely be answered at the upfronts today.