The merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery has created some uncertainty regarding AEW’s future.
On the latest edition of Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer indicated that significant budget cuts related to the merger could make it a lot harder for AEW to negotiate an increase in their TV rights money when their current television deal expires:
“[Warner Bros. Discovery is] gonna be eliminating new scripted programming...they’re gonna cut some of the scripted shows. Some of the ones that are around they’ll renew, but they will not be making news ones, apparently. So when these shows die off, the ones that are around now, in theory there will be no more scripted programming on TBS and TNT.
As far as what it means for AEW...when you’re talking about a company looking at making hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts, and another company partner that’s looking for a substantial rate increase on what they are getting on a new contract, which would be in 2024, you can do the math...”
Television rights money is a big concern for AEW, for obvious reasons, but could the doomsday scenario of cancellation even be on the table? Meltzer says anything is possible with new management overseeing things:
“It’s really too early to tell anything for sure. You just don’t know the new people involved. You don’t know what their feelings are about wrestling...I mean anything is possible, but I don’t think that they would cancel it. But the key is still a rights increase. And then you’re talking about a company that’s trying to cut way back, so those two things are contradictory.”
AEW is bringing in about 45 million dollars per year on their current television deal. The roster is beyond loaded, and WWE will likely be able to sign away some of their top stars if AEW doesn’t land a big increase on their TV rights money on the next contract. The key period for negotiations will be around the end of 2022 towards the middle of 2023.
AEW President Tony Khan gushes every week about how great their television ratings are. I guess we’ll find out just how valuable those numbers truly end up being, assuming there isn’t a decline by the end of this year.
How do you see this situation playing out, Cagesiders?