All Elite Wrestling
As All Elite Wrestling gradually announces matches for their upcoming CEO x AEW show in June and Fight For The Fallen in July and build angles for May’s Double or Nothing through their YouTube shows, information continues to emerge about their possible TV deal. Most recently, Tony Maglio of Hollywood trade The Wrap reported that AEW was in talks with Turner Sports.
The 411 Wrestling Interviews podcast, hosted by Jeffrey Harris, spoke with Maglio about both his research about and theories on the TV future of AEW and he revealed some interesting information.
Maglio described AEW’s deal with Turner as “closer to imminent than anything else,” though it’s still unclear whether the deal will be finalized before the networks’ upfronts in May. He also says the decision by Turner to have pro wrestling on their networks is related to TNT’s rivalry with the USA Network.
When asked about the likely format of AEW’s potential show, Maglio said that it’s likely to be weekly, and
“I have to imagine it will be live… From a content standpoint, they have some people who are used to writing wrestling TV, but, you know, look, they’re going to have to pay for their airtime, and they’re unproven. You know, as excited as people are – they have cool t-shirts and a cool roster… but they’re unproven. Let’s be realistic.”
Later in the podcast, Maglio again brought up the differences between AEW’s potential deal and what WWE currently has, saying, “It won’t be anywhere near the billions of dollars WWE is getting for TV… They’ll be buying their TV time, essentially, in all likelihood.”
When asked by Harris if “there would be a revenue split or it would be AEW paying for its time,” Maglio clarified:
“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… 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, a very established, very well-off company inside of a gigantic parent company – it’s not the UFC. It’s not WWE… 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.”
The podcast compares this to TNA paying for airtime on Fox Sports in 2004-5, which did not result in a long-term deal between the organizations. It’s worth noting that Al Haymon allegedly spent $20 million to air Premier Boxing Champions on NBC since 2015 and the boxing promotion has gone on to make deals with ESPN, CBS, Showtime, and other networks.
Some of Maglio’s statements – a mix of those presented as fact and opinion – in this interview were disputed by Dave Meltzer on the Wrestling Observer Newsletter message board. This included Meltzer claiming that “Time buy is false. It’s the exact opposite,” giving examples of networks “offering tons of money” for weekly live programming in general and to start streaming services, and saying that “One of the reasons the deal hasn’t been signed yet is because of multiple bidders.” Additionally, Voices of Wrestling was later told by sources within AEW that “timebuy deals” are not “on the table.”
Whatever the status of AEW’s TV negotiations, more information is likely to emerge over the next several weeks as major networks preview their fall programming lineups for advertisers at TV upfronts in May.