A new report has laid open the realities of the corporate merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery and how it will affect the future of AEW going forward.
WarnerMedia – which owns TBS and TNT – is set to merge with Discovery and WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar already a casualty with warnings of more cuts to come to the new media conglomerate. The New York Post has reported that new CEO David Zaslav is expected to “take a scalpel” to the new company which will be known as Warner Bros. Discovery.
Billionaire media mogul John Malone, who is a longtime stakeholder in Discovery previously commented that “cost synergies” – read “cuts” – for the newly merged company should be expected to “easily go past” $3 billion to $4 billion a year.
On the latest episode of Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer discussed the merger and says it will be “very significant” for the future of AEW:
“The merger is happening and it’s taking effect, the new people are being put in place and there’s fear of massive layoffs due to duplication. One of the things is that Discovery which is going to be running this, that they are historically aren’t a company that looks to spend a lot of money so how this all goes down is anyone’s guess.”
“What this means as far as AEW goes is anyone’s guess but it is very significant to AEW, we just don’t know how yet. We don’t know if the new people are gonna look at the ratings of wrestling, the ratings of AEW and go ‘these are good ratings, the Wednesday show’s really good’ and give them a big new contract.”
“I don’t see the contract, it’s like I know everyone thinks they’re gonna get this giant contract and they might but they need to get another bidder in there and they need to make a streaming deal which has been talked about forever.”
“I think if they have the TV show and a streaming deal and it can be one of those things where there’s data that proves everyone’s looking at the streaming, you know HBOMax as being the big money maker down the line but if they can get on an HBOMax and have tangible proof that they are moving numbers they will not get axed, they will keep the TV, I’m relatively certain because it’ll be one of those things with the whole synergy with the whole company.”
Meltzer continued by stating that AEW has to build momentum towards the end of 2023 to ensure the best possible deal and warns that Tony Khan’s company could be squeezed by the amounts paid to the “big sports”:
“But the TV deal’s not that far away, it’s the end of 2023 when this deal expires which means that late 2022/early 2023 is gonna be the negotiating period. Obviously, it’s very incumbent on AEW to really heat up in the fall, it’s very important that they heat up in the fall and look like they’ve got momentum.”
“But a lot of things are gonna be looked at and it’s not just ratings although ratings are a key, and if they get a deal where they stay on maybe at a nominal increase it’s gonna be very tough because WWE is gonna get a big increase from USA, I’m virtually certain. The thing is with Discovery, they’re locked into this NHL deal for years and they’re gonna do everything in their power to keep the NBA deal because the NBA deal is – and baseball, the big sports are going to get their money.”
“If there’s less money in television and they wanna make cuts and the big sports are gonna get their money, the middle sports, and AEW would be considered middle sports, they’re the ones that may suffer in this, despite ratings. That’s not for sure but this change will be a very, very significant story come 9/10 months from now because that AEW deal is probably going to be the most significant pro wrestling news story of 2023.”
Dave Meltzer finished by pointing out whatever deal AEW gets will determine their ability to bid for top tier talent and keep some of their own whose contracts are up in the next couple of years:
“That will determine how competitive they can be as far as negotiating for other contracts. If they get a big increase, some of these guys like Kevin Owens who stayed with WWE, who was very open about being interested but they were not going to go into the millions and millions for Kevin Owens at the level WWE did, there’s a lot of guys who have considered and AEW has not spent big – they spent big on Adam Cole and Bryan Danielson was a big, big deal obviously to them.”
“Some of the other deals obviously when they start coming due, Omega is next year, Moxley I think is coming due, some of those deals are gonna be very expensive – I don’t know that Moxley would ever go back to WWE based on what he has said, I think that one’s unlikely.”
“But a lot of these guys like Maxwell Jacob Friedman who is the one that has talked about it the most, when it comes to that if they get a $100 million TV deal I would suspect that there’s a real good chance that Max Friedman gets a really good deal from AEW and doesn’t go. If they get a $45 million deal that could make a big difference to how much they’d be willing to spend to keep him versus how much he would get offered elsewhere.”
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