Wrestling TV Deals; Don’t Believe the smoke!

It is that time of the year where every wrestling site has “The inside news” on WWE and AEW’s TV Deal. That they are know because a source told them, or they have some inside knowledge or sometimes they are guessing. Well let me spare you all the monthly 5.99 charge and tell you the truth.

Anybody who says they know is full of bullshit just like ponies.

Before all the wrestling nerds started going full mental, let me explain why I say this. Because most wrestling fans don’t even know right now what’s going on in Hollywood and people in the wrestling bubble need to understand that.

As of now, the Writers Guild Association along with the Actors/Directors are involved in a strike against the Hollywood Production studios. The main issue is that they want not just a new contract with more everything but protection from Artificial Intelligence. The fear is that with AI, writers can be replaced, background actors can be replaced and even actors eventually will be replaced.

This strike has been going on for several months now and because of that all production has been put on hold. That is why no new movies are in production, Television shows are not being promoted and even why Yellowstone is now going to be on CBS this fall.

It’s also why John Cena and The Rock are stopping by in WWE. They are not working on any projects; their schedule is free so why not come back for some quick cash.

The other part that nobody is mentioning is that the streaming services (and political issues) have caused havoc with the big studios. Warner Bros/ Discovery has lost 27 percent of their subscribers due to the failure of MAX and has lost a lot of money. It’s gotten to the point they have either outright cancelled projects like Batgirl for the tax write offs to selling the latest Batman animated show to Netflix.

Hell, they are selling all their DCEU and DC movies to Amazon just to make some profit.

Meanwhile Disney has been mired with their issues from box office failures to the streaming platform problems and “Don’t Say Gay” drama that they lost over a BILLION dollars in the last quarter. And just recently Bloomberg and Reuters reported that Byron Allen is making a serious bid to buy ABC and Hulu from Disney for 10 billion dollars.

That ain’t fake news and it isn’t chump change folks.

Well let me get straight to the point and state that all of this is proof of just how much the wrestling media is in the dark. It was only a few weeks ago that Dave Meltzer was stating that Disney and Amazon Prime were favorites to land WWE Smackdown. And it wasn’t just him it was other reporters who were repeating the same line.

They don’t know and they never did.

I am not saying this to pump my chest and tell people these guys are charlatans as I understand the game. I have covered major boxing, UFC, Bellator and other combat sports for a decade now. People got sources, insiders and other inside people who feed them scoops. Sometimes they are right, sometimes they are wrong and sometimes things change at the drop of the hat.

But the issue with the TV deals is that these meetings are going to be FAR outside the reach of Meltzer and other reporters, some of whom I like… as well as some whom I don’t like. Because nobody is going to have access to them.

The TV deals for AEW and especially WWE are going to be held between maybe 5-8 people total. NDA’s are going to be signed in some cases, assurances that nothing is leaked and lawyers are going to get in the middle of things. No way is Nick Khan going to spill the news to some wrestling reporter about where they MIGHT go. He doesn’t want shareholders to freak out on either side and get in hot water.

He wants to keep relationships friendly with all the studios as there is money to be made with good relationships. And spilling secrets does nothing but ruin good relationships.

Plus if your Disney, Warner Bros Discovery, Apple, Amazon, Paramount or any other suitor, you first want to know if they can get the WWE library. Studios right now are filled with tons of real estate in the former of servers for their streaming empires. They want to know if the content they have can draw more people in and help them sell subscriptions.

That is WWE’s bigger bargain chip is the library and PLE’s that Peacock has used to build their channel. It draws big money and has helped NBC Peacock become one of the few streaming services that has been fruitful. Networks see it and everyone is going to make a push and a bid for it. You would have to either been foolish not to or just not be interested in live sports at all (a la Netflix).

At the same time, a lot of studios are trying to figure out the next step in not just the strike but their future. Disney’s Bob Iger has talked about selling the company as the end game according to a report from CNBC. Reports from Variety and Hollywood insider have also talked of rumors of Disney being sold to Apple or Blackrock.

Meanwhile WBD’s David Zaslav has been working on a sales plan to sell not just all their RSN’s (Regional Sports Network’s) but also half of their music-publishing assets. MSN even reported that they are even trying to sell CNN to get rid of more debt and make the company attractive to sell later.

When you factor in all of this news it makes you realize just how small the wrestling world is compared to the larger universe.

Which leads me to the point that all these wrestling news sites don’t know squat about the TV deals. Their sources are not in the same room as the big swinging dicks who make these decisions. Chances are that they are just regurgitating what they heard in a chat room and making it as news.

Nobody knew who was going to buy WWE until the sale was announced. And why should they as those meetings were kept under raps as to not screw the stock prices. Same thing is happening here right now with the possible TKO Sports TV rights for WWE and then Endeavor.

A few things could happen involving WWE Smackdown and Raw lands next year. But right now anything more than speculation would be just guess work, not factual news. And until that happens, AEW’s TV rights will be in a holding pattern as too many dominos need to fall.

My best guess is that around November/December things will start getting more serious. By that time the Strike will probably end as the 2024 year will be on the horizon as well as the Holidays. Networks will want to start focusing on getting movies made for 2025 and promoting the 2024 slate. Strikers and picketers will be more willing to deal as checks and money will run out.

Only then will networks make a bigger move for WWE’s TV deal rights and certain networks will be either all in or all out. And after that AEW’s rights will get addressed.

But until then… be careful about the fake news and innuendo that wrestling journalists are peddling.

You can check out more interviews with athletes and sports reporters on www.lastcallpodcast.com or Follow me on Twitter.com/LastCallwChrisC