During an appearance on 411mania.com’s 411 Wrestling Interviews podcast, a reporter who covers TV for The Wrap discussed the All Elite Wrestling television show fans are anxiously awaiting news on. Tony Maglio is the person who last week provided details about a possible deal between Tony Khan’s company and Turner Sports after a Twitter account claimed a show would be announced at next month’s upfronts. According to Maglio’s sources, discussions between the two entities involve All Elite paying the network to get their content on the air, not Turner paying AEW for the show:
“My understanding based on the people I’ve spoken to is that it would be more AEW paying for its time on TNT than Turner paying AEW for its show. Another very good wrestling reporter and I had been talking about whether that would be the case or whether it would be a revenue share, and we’d both heard rumblings and talked to people. Maybe a couple of months ago it might have been a little bit of a different story. But the truth is, when you’re talking to Turner, [they’re] a very well-established, very well-off company inside of gigantic parent company…it’s not the UFC. It’s not WWE, it’s not MLB. They have MLB, they have NBA. They know what they have to pay for. And I think currently, AEW has way more to prove than Turner has in terms of trying to get them to come to their networks. I think AEW needs this deal more than Turner does.”
A “timebuy” arrangement is very different from what many have been expecting for All Elite. The belief has been the new company would be paid for their show, as WWE is for Raw and SmackDown, or major sports are for broadcast rights to their games. What Maglio’s sources are hearing is more like how TNA got on Fox Sports Net in the aughts; a “revenue share” would be more like Impact’s alleged deal with POP, where neither side paid the other for the time slot or the content, but they split advertising sales money.
As TNA proved, buying time isn’t a death knell for a wrestling promotion. But it also doesn’t line up with the vision of AEW as a WWE competitor many fans have developed in their minds - despite the company still being more than a month away from putting on their first show.
To further muddy the waters, multiple sites have since responded to the report from Maglio with claims their sources say a “timebuy” hasn’t even been considered. Starting with Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer, who said on his site’s subscription-based message board:
And followed by Voices of Wrestling:
This is double sourced.— Voices of Wrestling (@voiceswrestling) April 19, 2019
And finally, Fightful.com:
Sources on the AEW side of things are denying rumors of a time buy. One said they'd not even heard time buy as a discussion before news broke yesterday. I guess we'll see either way— Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com (@SeanRossSapp) April 19, 2019
Maglio’s responded on his own Twitter, mostly to clarify that his thoughts on a potential AEW “off-season” are based on comments made by Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks & others, and talk of a one-hour show his own speculation. Regarding buying time, he tweeted:
Checked back in with an AEW/Turner negotiations source. Person still believes any hefty rights fee is “highly unlikely." A "time-buy" could also just be worked out via adjusted ad rev split. Lots of ways to account for TV money, as we know. (Complex) negotiations continue.— Tony Maglio (@TonyMaglio) April 19, 2019
So while his source isn’t outright saying Khan & company will pay to get their show on the air, they are saying not to expect Turner to shell out big bucks for an unknown entity. Which makes sense to me, considering no wrestling company other than WWE has been able to negotiate their way into getting paid by a network to be on our screens.
The good news for AEW? There’s a lot of interest among wrestling fans to find out what their next move is. We’ll find out soon enough whether that interest translates into a successful television show, or sustainable business model all around.