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ROH on HDNet cancelled as of April

It was announced yesterday that HDNet was not renewing Ring of Honor's contract, so ROH's TV show will cease to exist after the April 4th episode.  The last tapings will be on the 21st and 22nd of this month at the former ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  ROH released the following statement:

Ring of Honor completed its 2 year TV contract with HDNet. During this time "ROH on HDNet" fans witnessed many great matches, the introduction of the ROH Television Title, and the crowning of new tag champions, among other historical moments. HDNet will air new episodes of ROH until 4/4/11. Please continue to support ROH and watch these new shows on HDNet.

Negotiations are underway for HDNet to broadcast a live special in 2011, and we will bring you more information on that as it becomes available. Ring of Honor Wrestling would like to thank HDNet for the last two years, especially those behind the scenes that made it possible every single TV taping.

The final ROH on HDNet TV tapings are scheduled for January 21st & 22nd in Philadelphia, so come out and support ROH as we close out our weekly run on HDNet. Tickets are available here:

While the shows were widely praised, the arrangement didn't benefit either party much.  HDNet is too obscure to help ROH's visibility (not on many cable systems, dropped by Time Warner and Bell ExpressVu, not viewable on standard definition TVs, on a premium tier on some systems, etc.) to the point that they don't subscribe to Nielsen ratings, and ROH isn't big enough (at their peak, they never sold 10,000 copies of a single DVD, and their early pretaped PPVs only barely hit 10,000 buys) to affect HDNet in any considerable way.

ROH may actually be worse off from the deal.  Taping so many shows at a time so far in advance handcuffed the booking.  The idea that they'd become valuable enough to HDNet that Mark Cuban (who's a huge wrestling fan)  would buy the company with his spare change never came close to materializing.  The "wrestling is back on Monday nights" campaign put them at odds with WWE, but theoretically that should end.  They had hoped to pick up international TV deals and Ric Flair was brought in to help that goal along, but that quickly ended in disaster when WWE wanted him involved in Wrestlemania 25 and he didn't refund his deposit, leading to a lawsuit.  Philadelphia, the company's home market, has been burnt out by the easy access to free tickets to the TV tapings and it may take a long time to rebuild.  They had gone to OVW's Davis Arena in Louisville, Kentucky (a building basically built to hold small wrestling TV tapings) for the last tapings, which was a great idea, and I don't know why they abandoned it.  My best guess is that with the contract expiring, they wanted to do the last set of tapings in Philly to re-establish their presence before waiting a while to do regular, paid shows there again.

So, what's next for ROH?  MavTV has shown interest in the past, but it's a cable network that's at about the same level as HDNet or arguably even lower.  Versus has talked with them but it never went very far. If there's nothing else on the horizon and MavTV is interested, then there's still the issue of ROH needing a TV quality production crew.  They need to find a way to rebuild Philadelphia and build up the markets that they run other than New York, which is still strong.  They haven't touched the central to northern New Jersey area for over a year, last running a lame duck show in their regular venue in Edison, NJ in November '09, so that's another area they should try to rebuild. That one spyware wrestling site says that the loss of the deal shouldn't hurt ROH financially, which I guess makes sense since I don't see HDNet paying them much.  It's not a good sign, either, and it should be interesting to see what happens next.

Update: The new issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter disputes the claim about the cancellation not hurting ROH financially, with Dave Meltzer noting that HDNet was paying a rights fee for the show and also sold the show to networks in France, Italy, and Russia.

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