The announcement was made before WarnerMedia’s networks present on Wednesday at TCA winter press tour.
Wrestling has been riding high lately, with Fox grabbing WWE Smackdown rights from USA (which still airs the WWE’s Raw) and TNT jumping into the ring with AEW. Earlier this week, Major League Wrestling told Deadline exclusively that it has signed with ICM before its broadcast and streaming rights become available in the spring.
“When Tony Khan first shared with me his idea of starting a new wrestling league, I was impressed by his audacity to go up against a contender that has been the only game in town for 20 years, and ultimately believed that together we could bring his vision for a new, authentic, gritty product to bear,” said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer, HBO Max, president, TNT, TBS, and truTV. “The fans have spoken and after only three months, we have seen AEW shake up the wrestling world and this will only continue as we build upon this momentum.”
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AEW: Dynamite has been a top 20 cable show, averaging 1.2M total viewers and 654,000 in the demo in Live +7 ratings.
“When we launched AEW one year ago, we wanted to start a revolution that would disrupt the wrestling business, but everyone said that it would take a strong weekly television partner to make AEW real in the eyes of everyone – above all, the fans,” said Khan, president and CEO of AEW. “What virtually no one realized at the time was Kevin Reilly and TNT were committed to this very same movement from Day One, and their belief in us made it possible for AEW to think and act big from the start.”
The infusion of wrestling on Wednesdays from 8PM to 10PM ET has provided stability, helping TNT weather a period in the media business that has not been kind to general entertainment cable networks.
Beyond its WarnerMedia relationship, AEW has broadcast deals in the UK, Canada, France and Germany and is available in more than 100 other countries through the AEWPlus.com subscription service.
WarnerMedia first announced its AEW plans in May 2019 at its upfront presentation to media buyers. In addition to linear airings, pay-per-view matches have been available through streaming platform B/R Live, Reilly and other WarnerMedia execs are also working on the launch of HBO Max. The company has not offered any indications about whether any AEW programming will be part of HBO Max, which debuts in May.
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