AEW will reportedly not be receiving any rights fees from their new television deal with WarnerMedia. While AEW, which will begin airing on TNT later this year, will not be receiving any rights fees, they will be receiving an ad revenue split, according to TSN's John McMullen. WarnerMedia will also be paying for production.
"Context of #AEWonTNT AEW TV Deal -- Platform is amazing and this is an unprecedented deal for a start-up," McMullen wrote on Twitter. "Confirmed from a source on the television side there are no rights fees but as we have been saying here for weeks that should not have been expected. It's being treated like a sports property so production fees are there and a 'great' advertising split for AEW."
The deal is similar to XFL's new agreements with ESPN and Fox Sports, where the XFL will not receive any rights fees, but the networks will pay for the production costs. However, there is no ad revenue split with the XFL deal, although they will handle sponsorships at the stadiums.
Dave Meltzer reported in the latest edition of The Wrestling Observer Newsletter that while AEW will not be receiving rights fees, there will be a downside guarantee with the advertising revenue. Meltzer added that with production costs paid for and the ad revenue split, AEW expects to be profitable by 2020.
As I mentioned yesterday, with this new deal, AEW has become the first wrestling company outside of WWE to secure a television deal in the U.S. on a top 25 cable network since WCW folded. TNT is actually available in slightly more homes than the USA Network, although the USA Network was the eighth most watched network of 2018 while TNT was at #14. The Paramount Network, which used to be known as Spike TV and aired TNA programming for nearly ten years, was #44.
McMullen noted how great the new deal is for AEW, adding that the only reason it may come across as disappointing is due to some errant reports stating that the company would receive rights fees.
"Remember, it took Vince McMahon nearly 20 years of producing highly-rated television before he got a somewhat significant rights deal from Viacom at the turn of the century," McMullen tweeted. "The monster deal took over 35 years. TNA/Impact once had Hulk Hogan, Sting and Randy Savage and couldn't get this kind of platform. It's an amazing deal that those in @AEWrestling are ecstatic about.
"If it comes across as flat to some that's because they were expecting rights fees due to some shoddy reporting. Right now #AEW is set up like old #WWE where PPV numbers and advertising will be significant to growth. #WWE remains idiot-proof because of TV deal"
AEW has yet to announce their official start date, the day of the week that it will air and how long the episodes will be, although AEW's Jim Ross noted last month that the show would be two hours. It was noted in The Observer that the show will air either on Tuesday or Wednesday nights, but that has not yet been determined. WarnerMedia is apparently doing market research to determine if the show should air on Tuesdays to fill the void of SmackDown when it moves to Fridays in the fall. The downside of Tuesdays is that the show would regularly be preempted during basketball season due to NBA games on TNT. While there are some NBA games on TNT on Wednesdays later in the season, most of the Wednesday games air on ESPN.