The Sports Business Journal dropped a new report on Monday stating that NBCUniversal's two-decade relationship with the National Hockey League was coming to an end, and that ESPN and Turner Sports would be taking over the broadcasting rights for the next seven years. ESPN, having paid reportedly $2.8 billion, will get the league's "A" package along with four upcoming Stanley Cup Finals. Turner, owned by WarnerMedia, will pay $1.57 billion for the "B" package and have games air on TNT, TBS and HBO Max.
So what could this mean for All Elite Wrestling? The Jacksonville-based promotion has kept its weekly time slot on Wednesday nights since premiering in October 2019 and has only run into scheduling conflicts when TNT was hosting certain NBA postseason games late last season. If Turner's new deal put NHL on TNT, it could theoretically force AEW Dynamite to move nights. But if it went to TBS there likely wouldn't be any issues.
Dave Meltzer dicussed the topic on the latest Wrestling Observer Radio, pointing out that nobody has confirmed which network Turner will put the bulk of its games on.
"The key thing is what does that mean, because the big game of the week had been a Wednesday television game, what does that mean with AEW? If it's on TBS it doesn't mean anything. If TNT wants it, that gets really tricky," Meltzer said. "The early things I have been told is that this will not affect AEW, that AEW will stay in its time slot."
He then pointed out that AEW president Tony Khan has been adamant about the show not moving to Monday nights in order to avoid competing with the NFL three months out of the year.
Update: Turner Sports and the NHL officially confirmed on Tuesday morning that the seven-year deal is official and that games will air on both TNT and TBS beginning next season. It was not specifically mentioned which weekly games will air on which network, but it was confirmed that the company will have rights to air the annual NHL Winter Classic, the Stanley Cup Finals in 2023, 2025 and 2027, a conference final series each season, half of the games in the first two rounds of the playoffs and 72 regular season games a year.
The NHL and Turner Sports announced a seven-year media rights agreement that will have regular-season, Stanley Cup Playoff and Stanley Cup Final games televised on TNT and TBS starting next season. https://t.co/Gv5SvYVC0y— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) April 27, 2021
Khan spoke with PWInsider back in early April and discussed how he felt Dynamite's "turning point" came on the New Year's Day episode of 2020, a rare episode that ran unopposed against NXT.
"I'll be honest, the low point for us was definitely December 2019, and you talk about us being opposed/unopposed — we were unopposed January 1st, we were opposed by a clip show. And the show we did on January 1st , 2020 was the show that really changed things for us. The pandemic changed the world, but before we all knew what the pandemic was, January 1st, 2020 - we changed our own destiny. We went out and did the best show we could possibly do that night and took advantage of no new competition — no new matches, just a clip show. Cody and Darby tore down the house and they had a story that kept going throughout 2020."
Stay tuned for more details on AEW's situation on TNT as they become available!