AEW is negotiating terms for a new TV deal right now with its broadcast partner Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), at the same time that WWE is rumored to be seeking $400 million per year on its next TV deal for Raw. There’s actually a scenario where WWE Raw ends up on WBD, which could spell disaster for All Elite Wrestling.
On a call with the media today ahead of the Worlds End pay-per-view on Saturday night, AEW President Tony Khan was confident about continuing his current business relationship with WBD in 2024 and beyond, but also asserted there are “a lot of suitors” interested in AEW programming.
When Khan was specifically asked by Wrestlenomics’ Brandon Thurston to explain AEW’s drop in TV ratings year-over-year, he focused on ratings for WWE Raw and AEW Dynamite being down a similar amount in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2023 compared to the same quarter in 2022:
“You say Raw is down 8% and Dynamite’s down 10%...that’s very similar, and both of those are ahead of the decline in cable television. Cable television is down a lot more than 10% year-over-year. And both of us, Raw is down 8% and Dynamite down 10%, are beating the hell out of gravity. And both of us are looking at a big pay raise this year, for Dynamite and Raw. And Raw having made 265 million dollars a year last year, for them to get a pay raise, that’s gonna be a really big number for them. And for us, it’s a lot of money too.”
...Both shows are probably due for a big rights fee increase, and frankly percentage-wise, especially Dynamite because of where we started and how we performed...I think that both shows have done really well to, frankly defy gravity, and stay ahead of the drop, which as I understand is closer to 20%.”
That’s a pretty sly move by Tony, anwering a question about AEW’s ratings drop to explain why AEW deserves a significant pay increase on its next TV deal. And he did so by putting AEW Dynamite in the same boat as WWE Raw, which most people understand will see a big money increase on its next TV deal.
Does Tony Khan’s argument make sense to you, or is there a lot more to the story than just looking at Q4 numbers year-over-year?
Let us know what you think in the comments below, Cagesiders.