All Elite Wrestling is reportedly in the midst of discussions for a television deal with two major television networks. Whatever decision is reached will surely change the landscape or professional wrestling moving forward.
This week's Wrestling Observer Newsletter notes that the new promotion, launched recently by Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks, and the Khan family, has had high level talks with two "major cable stations." Chris Jericho also said as much during a recent appearance on Busted Open Radio. Though no network is specifically named, we can make some educated guesses as to which may be in play.
One rumor that has been going around is that TNT/TBS might be looking at getting involved with wrestling programming for the first time since the demise of WCW in 2001. A television deal to air on either TBS or TNT, given their rich history with the sport of pro wrestling (and rivalry with WWE), would set the wrestling world on fire.
Paramount (formerly Spike TV) has also been rumored to have been interested in airing wrestling programming once again. The network has previously been involved with both WWE and Impact Wrestling.
ESPN has previously shown some interest in WWE programming and could also be a possibility, though the network has challenges given all of their existing sports programming. That could make trying to slot in a weekly, live episodic product like AEW difficult.
Dave Meltzer notes in the Observer story that discussions with the networks involves AEW producing a weekly, live two hour broadcast. Previous reports that the shows would be taped to air are not accurate.
Despite not yet holding any live events, AEW already seems to be firmly entrenched as the biggest rival to the WWE in North America. WWE also clearly recognizes this, going to great lengths in their attempts to sign both The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega in recent weeks.
While there have been other promotions over the last 20 years that have had success in the United States outside of WWE, none have had the built-in systematic and financial advantages that AEW will have from the get-go.
Shahid Khan and son Tony Khan reportedly own 100% of AEW. Shahid's net-worth is estimated to be $6.5 billion and he has been ranked the 65th richest man in the United States by Forbes (217th richest in the world). Simply put, nobody with this kind of financial profile has been involved in the wrestling business opposite Vince McMahon since Ted Turner.
The Khans have been able to open important doors for AEW given their involvement in two of the world's most valuable sports leagues. Shahid Khan is the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars (NFL) and Fulham F.C. (British Premier League). This, alongside last fall's successful All In event promoted by Cody and the Bucks, has likely been the springboard for AEW's television discussions with what are reported to be high level networks.5comments
As this week's Observer put it:
It (AEW) opened picking up sizable talent and there are very serious negotiations with two major cable stations for a weekly two-hour live prime time television show, doors opened by the Khan family’s business and personal connections, the value of WWE and other live sports programming rights and the blueprint of the promotion, the success of the 9/1 All In show.
Since their launch on New Year's Day, AEW has been making headlines almost daily and we don't expect that to change anytime soon.