The newest issue of Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer Newsletter (that link is for online subscriptions, print subscriptions available here) has a story on Sinclair Broadcast Group's purchase of Ring of Honor that fills in some of the details we've been wondering about, including some of the things Dylan Hales and I discussed last night on the podcast.
- The deal has been in the works since November. Both sides verbally agreed in January (the month when ROH on HDNet was publicly cancelled) and it was officially finalized this past Friday. That certainly answers some of the questions we were wondering about on the podcast, but not all of them. Meltzer didn't say anything about when HDNet informed ROH that they wouldn't be renewing their deal, or if it was ROH who made the call when they reached their verbal agreement with Sinclair.
- Event promoter Gary Juster was the go-between, with new ROH COO Joe Koff being the point man on the Sinclair side. Juster, who worked for WCW for it's entire existance (and promoted Baltimore among other cities for its predecessor Jim Crockett Promotions), had already done a little bit of work for ROH after being brought in by Jim Cornette. We already knew he was being brought on to promote the live events, but it's worth stressing that he is a good person to have on their side even if they weren't expanding. There probably isn't anyone else around nowadays who they could bring in who is as good as Juster at getting sponsors and everything else needed to do as well as possible in a market.
- With ROH's overhead being relatively low by Sinclair's standards, the increase in revenue to make the company profitable isn't considered that huge.
- Joe Koff's wrestling experience is indeed being overblown. He was just in charge of syndicating the "Battle of the Belts" specials. He's a TV advertising guy and nothing more, so if he decides to have any kind of direct influence over the actual wrestling product, things could get ugly.
- Dan Bynum is joining the company to produce the TV. He was part of the crew that produced World Class Championship Wrestling (the state of the art North American wrestling TV show of the time) in its heyday and later worked in production for WCW as well. As someone who knows how to produce wrestling television on the technical side, he is, like Juster, a good addition to the company.
- The TV show will be similar in format to the HDNet show, but with superior production values, especially on the audio side, as the crowd audio was always very low on HDNet.
- The show will air on Sinclair's CW and MyNetworkTV affiliates on Saturday nights either from 9 to 10 or 10 to 11 PM. On Sinclair's other network affiliates, the presence of Saturday night network programming will put ROH in whatever slot is considered most convenient.
- They will be in more homes than they were on HDNet, but, as previously noted, they're not on in the biggest TV markets like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. This will make it difficult to sell national ads. On the plus side, Toronto, currently a key ROH city, will get the show via Buffalo, NY.
- After a few months of TV, they will start running in the new markets two to three times per year.
- There will be five IPPVs each year: The two Wrestlemania weeked shows sold as a package and three others. They want to concentrate on making each IPPV a bigger deal.
- Blood will be avoided on TV, at least early on, and later will only be used in major angles. When Sinclair executives were at the Chicago show this past weekend, there was a a bloody match where the Briscoes hanged Kenny King over the top rope with a chain and talked about "hanging his black ass." The executives were clearly uncomfortable, and when asked by a fan if that was an example of what would be on TV, one of them answered with a blunt "No."
Even with all this new information, there's still no indication why Sinclair felt this was a good move to make or what they feel would be a successful outcome. There was nothing in the Observer about the selling price. A Well's Fargo analyst placed it at "under $10 million," which sounds like it's either a way of saying that it was more than $5 million (more than the $4.3 million WWE paid for WCW) or making ROH seem like a bigger deal than it is without lying or overshooting too much. In a post on his subscribers-only message board, Meltzer said that ROH was purchased for "well under" what WWE paid for WCW. There have been rumors that Cary Silkin has lost $2 million dollars thanks to ROH, but that still seems too high for the company's value. We shall see...
Meanwhile, Sinclair's stock still continued rolling downhill today, putting it down 9.56% overall since the market opened on Monday morning, the first day of trading since the announcement.