With the announcement of All Elite Wrestling’s partnership with WarnerMedia—and the announcement of the upstart promotion’s as-yet-unnamed weekly, live TV debut—professional wrestling may have changed forever this week.
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter provided further financial details behind the deal in this week’s edition: WarnerMedia is covering the show’s production costs, in a committed development that shocked even Uncle Dave, and AEW will pocket a guaranteed portion of the split advertisement revenue. This almost doubles as a rights fee, something, as NFL expert John McMullen pointed out, took Vince McMahon some 35 years to procure.
To reduce all of this to its headline, an established US cable TV mainstay is backing a new wrestling promotion with unprecedented conviction. McMullen has described the deal as “amazing”; Meltzer has expanded on this take by deeming it “the most significant television breakthrough for pro wrestling in the US since Turner Broadcasting cancelled wrestling on TNT and TBS in early 2001.”
AEW is primed to benefit from a similar level of exposure to WWE in the U.S., and will find itself available in considerably more homes than its rival in the United Kingdom. The prospective ITV4 deal holds incredible potential to pose a real challenge to WWE’s dominance on these isles; available in 95% of British homes, the channel dwarfs the reach of WWE’s new BT Sport partner—a partnership forged in part as a result of Sky’s apathetic promotional machine and WWE’s declining viewership.
AEW is in the best, most miraculous possible position to succeed.