RADICAN’S TAKE: What does no TV deal mean for ROH’s future?

By Sean Radican, PWTorch Columnist (Twitter: @SR_Torch)

ROH set to be taped with new AEW Collision show.


Ring of Honor’s TV fate for the foreseeable future has been decided and it is not great news for fans hoping to see a full relaunch of the company with a show of its own on a cable or streaming platform.

AEW and ROH owner Tony Khan said he would have some news about ROH’s future on TV last week at the media scrum that took place ahead of ROH’s Final Battle PPV after the show took place. After the show at the post-PPV media scrum, Khan announced that ROH TV would be housed on ROH’s relaunched streaming platform HonorClub. PPVs will still be housed on the WBD-owned BR streaming app and on traditional PPV. After 90 days, they will migrate over to HonorClub.

This means that Khan was unable to find a deal with Warner Bros. Discovery to house it on one of their cable channels or on a WBD-owned streaming service like HBO Max. Khan kept the ROH brand alive by featuring ROH storylines on Dynamite and they were also heavily featured on Rampage in hopes of keeping the brand relevant as he tried to find a house for TV, but it didn’t work.

Perhaps if things were different and Warner Bros. and Discovery hadn’t recently merged, Khan would have found a way to make a deal happen. Brett Weitz, who was the GM of TNT, TBS, and truTV, made his exit shortly after the companies merged this year. Weitz was largely responsible for getting AEW exposure on TNT and TBS with Dynamite and later Rampage.

At the post Double or Nothing PPV media scrum in May, Khan mentioned that he got along well with Nancy Daniels of WBD after meeting with her management team for the first time and referred to her as a strong leader. Variety reported on Dec. 9 that WBD had cut ties with several members of management including Daniels. It is unknown what kind of impact this had on Khan’s negotiations to bring ROH to WBD, but her departure certainly couldn’t have helped ROH’s cause.

AEW’s current deal with WBD is up for renewal at the end of 2023 and negotiations for a new deal are going to begin next year. AEW appears to be in good shape to land a much better TV deal when it comes time to renew, but the question when it comes to ROH’s future is whether or not Tony Khan can secure a timeslot on cable TV for ROH in the new deal as part of negotiations.

There isn’t much upside for ROH to air TV on HonorClub behind a paywall of $9.99 each month other than keeping the company alive and turning out content as Khan waits for the right deal. Khan seems to be very motivated to keep ROH alive. He’s already earned a big return on his investment setting multiple show specific live gate and buyrate records for the company in 2022 albeit with much more exposure on AEW programming than the company ever had previously. Khan invested a good amount of AEW TV time into featuring ROH titles and storylines since he acquired the company in May.

Khan indicated at the media scrum ahead of the Final Battle PPV earlier this month that ROH’s presence on AEW TV would be greatly scaled back going forward. ROH is likely going to be left to fend for itself so to speak on HonorClub without getting exposure on TBS and TNT on AEW programming. It’s hard to imagine a lot of fans will pay $9.99 to view the TV programming each week when there’s so much wrestling available on cable and network TV each week even if it is really good and gets a lot of buzz. ROH PPVs will not appear on HonorClub in a timely manner going forward and the catalog of past ROH programming has appeal, but it is not going to bring in a ton of subscribers to the platform.

Khan also indicated ROH would be working heavily with NJPW when it comes to the TV product on HonorClub, but more details won’t be available until after Wrestle Kingdom on Jan. 4. What the weekly TV show on HonorClub will do is give Khan a chance to showcase what he can do with the brand on a week-by-week basis that makes it worthy of putting on cable TV.

It doesn’t appear that Khan would want to step outside of his relationship with WBD to find a cable or streaming platform for ROH at the current moment, so the best bet seems to be for Khan to negotiate ROH into his next AEW deal with WBD for 2024.

Keeping ROH alive by housing TV on HonorClub is only going to make sense financially for Khan for so long. No wrestling company on the scale of what Khan has presented so far with his ROH roster can make money with its sole exposure being on a company-operated platform like HonorClub. The company could gain a hardcore following possibly if the show is really good, but even that is an uphill climb.

If Khan can land ROH a TV deal with WBD or possibly another media company if things don’t work out with WBD, ROH TV airing on HonorClub is good news for the company. If Khan is unable to secure a TV deal for ROH in the next year, it will likely be time for him to fold the company for good. Either way, Khan with his financial resources and connections is going to give ROH its best chance to stay alive as an operational company.

Contact Sean at pwtorchsean@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @SR_Torch

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