The merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia has created a lot of uncertainty for the Turner cable networks. One of the pillars of those networks since 2019 has been All Elite Wrestling. Tony Khan’s pro wrestling outfit will soon be looking for a big pay increase for the rights fees to AEW Dynamite and Rampage. With major changes and huge cuts coming, a lot of things are up in the air for AEW.

Dave Meltzer discussed the economics of the situation on the latest Wrestling Observer Radio. By 2024, AEW will be looking for a major pay raise from Discovery. The network will have to look long and hard to see if they think such a deal will be worth it. Many factors will go into making those future decisions.

“They’re going to cut some of the scripted shows. Some of the ones that are around, they’ll renew, but they will not be making new ones, apparently. So, when these shows die off, you know, 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, it’s too soon to say, but 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 know, I mean, you can do the math.

Of course, by the time 2024 comes along, things may be very different, or they may not… It’s really too early to tell anything for sure. You don’t know, the new people involved, you don’t know what their feelings are about wrestling. For the money they spend and the ratings they get, AEW is a bargain on $45 million a year. A lot of people will look at stuff, like some of the reality shows or just some shows, and they’ll look at the ratings compared to AEW and the cost being much more per hour, but sometimes people miss the fact that a lot of these shows, scripted shows, that you would put on a station that might cost more per hour, they can be replayed 20, 30, 40 times whereas wrestling is only airing once. So it’s like, yes, you’re getting two hours a week for 52 weeks a year for $45 million and some other show might cost a lot more for 26 episodes, but those 26 episodes are going to air 500 times if they air 20 times each, and they can air forever…

That’s an aspect that I’ve seen a lot of people not really get when they’re trying to make these comparisons. There are shows that, let’s say the audience is 200,000 on a debut and it looks terrible. But, if they’re getting like 100,000 viewers 20 times, in the sense of they’re getting a lot of viewers for that price. The big thing is, everything is going to be different in 2024, which is when the deal comes up and you just don’t know. Are there going to be more people interested? Are there going to be streaming services interested?”

With new ownership of TBS and TNT, AEW will have to wait and see how the newly-merged company handles its wrestling product. While they are bringing in strong ratings for their current price, a lot of changes are on the horizon. Nobody knows what the plan is for AEW going forward. The Discovery-Warner merger may prove to be very consequential to Tony Khan’s company.

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Transcription by Thirsty for News

Michael Perry

Michael Perry is a news contributor for Ringside News and Thirsty for News. Michael has an M.A. in Communication Technology from Point Park University in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.

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