POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: Anthem CEO discusses the AXS TV purchase

Anthem CEO & founder discusses the AXS TV purchase, a deeper look at Impact Wrestling, a big story on the WWE Network's changes, title match added to Clash of Champions & more.


**Monday’s edition of Rewind-A-Raw is available to download as Wai and I reviewed Monday’s show from Madison Square Garden featuring Steve Austin. Plus, we discussed the Anthem purchase of AXS TV & HDNet Movies, the change involving TakeOver over Royal Rumble weekend, Cain Velasquez’s future in wrestling, AEW going to Nashville, and the Rev Pro incident from last weekend involving referee Aaren Wilde.

**Don’t forget to subscribe to POST Wrestling on YouTube for select clips from our shows and Rewind-A-Raw, Rewind-A-SmackDown, and the Café Hangout in their entirety.

**Wai Ting and I will be back tonight with Rewind-A-SmackDown to chat tonight’s show from Madison Square Garden, the updates for Clash of Champions, the King of the Ring final, and today’s news. Plus, it’s our weekly POST Wrestling Prize Pack giveaway with all members of the POST Wrestling Café automatically entered in the draw weekly.

**On Wednesday, we will have a new edition of The Double Shot reviewing Episodes 7 & 8 of GLOW Season 3 for members of the Café.

**We are looking for anyone that might be interested in covering this Sunday’s AAA card that is airing on Fite TV and writing a report for the site. If you’re are interested, please contact me at [email protected].


*Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown
*Wednesday: The Double Shot – Episodes 7 & 8 of GLOW Season 3 (Patreon)
*Thursday: Café Hangout with guest Jimmy Korderas (3 pm Eastern for Double Double+ Café members)
*Thursday: upNXT with Braden Herrington & Davie Portman
*Friday: Rewind-A-Wai #44 – WWE Royal Rumble 2017 (Patreon)
*Sunday: WWE Clash of Champions POST Show (LIVE for Double Double+ Café members)


**SmackDown and 205 Live takes place from Madison Square Garden tonight with The Undertaker advertised to appear. They have announced the following matches for 205 Live:
*Drew Gulak & Tony Nese vs. Humberto Carrillo & Lince Dorado
*Brian Kendrick & Akira Tozawa vs. Jack Gallagher & a mystery partner

**WWE has announced that Elias has suffered an injury and will be unable to wrestle on tonight’s episode. We can confirm it is a legitimate injury. Elias was set to face Chad Gable tonight in the King of the Ring semi-final match.

**A United States title match between AJ Styles and Cedric Alexander has officially been added to Clash of Champions this Sunday in Charlotte, North Carolina, which is Alexander’s hometown.

**Anthem founder and CEO Leonard Asper spoke to Multichannel News regarding the purchase of AXS TV and HDNet Movies. Asper indicated they are still in the market to increase their reach stating, “this is a good start, but yes, we are looking for other opportunities. We want to with as much proprietary content as we can.” In the story, he said a big part of purchasing Impact was their library and the ability for the outlet to own the content.

On the deal with AXS, he noted, “We were talking about a content relationship with them based on some of the other things we do – wrestling and e-sports and fantasy sports – and that led to the deal. There was no investment bank hired or a process at all. This was a discussion that came out of a relationship we were developing with them.”

Regarding AXS TV, Asper said there were opportunities with some of their content, but they are not looking to change AXS TV from its current incarnation. They view the network as an “add on” rather than transforming it into something they already have.

Anthem did not comment on additional layoffs or cuts that would come as a result of this deal.

**The major story this week is Anthem’s purchase of AXS TV and HDNet Movies. The true effect of this purchase won’t be known for some time and many questions remain. Specific to Impact Wrestling, it’s a major upgrade with the inevitable move from the Pursuit Channel to AXS TV. Although, they will still be in fewer homes than Destination America and Pop TV were in, which were significant downgrades after being dropped by Spike TV in 2014.

In 2019, Impact has rebounded on a creative level where the shows are well-received and have been the case consistently since Scott D’Amore and Don Callis were brought on board. The issue has been their distribution on the domestic level in the U.S. where Impact has never been less visible since their days running weekly Wednesday night pay-per-views. The hope is that more eyes will lead to an audience engaged to buy tickets, pay-per-views, and support Impact’s business. But, it’s a different landscape than even two years ago.

In today’s market, the wrestling fan is overserved and must make decisions with respect to their time available to follow a product. Furthermore, advertisers, sponsors, and talent have a real alternative with the advent of All Elite Wrestling with a machine in TNT behind it. For the longest time, when it came to the U.S. scene, Impact had a section of the market largely to themselves. There was a robust talent pool considered undersized by WWE standards or not typical hires that Impact could corner and build their company around. They had a tremendous television outlet mixed with brand name stars and yet, the business didn’t move to the degree necessary. Their audience was willing to watch the weekly television but not spend money on pay-per-view or live events.

Impact finds itself below the top tier of the industry that WWE has had a stranglehold over with AEW representing a true alternative where WWE will specifically combat using NXT. Then, you have New Japan, whose U.S. strategy will be one everyone is monitoring. They have begun running more standalone shows in the country, have an existing relationship with AXS TV that brings an interesting dynamic to this deal, and have built up a fanbase. Beneath that level is company’s like Impact, Ring of Honor, and MLW that will fight for the remaining attention and dollars of the fans that want more.

The next question is where you put Impact on the schedule. You would think Monday and Wednesday are immediately off the table for clear reasons. Tuesday is now wide open and is a night of the week fans have been conditioned to watch wrestling since July 2016 when SmackDown moved to its live format. Thursdays come with NFL competition that always had an effect on Impact when they ran that night in the past. One other option is Friday nights at 10 pm, which is the current slot. The argument is that you have a minimum of 2-2.5 million fans watching SmackDown on Fox and can flip over to AXS, although there is a conflict as LFA runs Friday nights on AXS TV. Currently, New Japan’s block on AXS is Saturday nights, which isn’t a good night for Impact to be running. If you are holding onto New Japan, it makes a lot of sense to slot the two shows together with Impact following New Japan in the hopes of crossover appeal.

The issues on New Japan’s end with Impact run deep even though it was a prior regime they had their problems with. Strategically, it may behoove New Japan to alleviate their outstanding problems and find common ground for the sake of their broadcaster in the U.S. It’s complicated with New Japan’s relationship with Ring of Honor while Impact is working with NOAH but has always had an open-door policy that they’ll work with anyone if it makes sense for them and New Japan would benefit Impact by increasing its awareness.

**One of the unfortunate fallouts from deals like this are the cuts that come with them. On Monday night, AXS TV publicist Cindy Ronzoni announced her departure “due to the sale” after six-years with the company.

**Here is more information on the names listed by Anthem Sports that will make up their board of directors:
*Ted Goldthorpe – He’s named as a lead financier in this acquisition and is the head of BC Partners Credit. He served as a managing director at Goldman Sachs for almost 13 years and then moved on to become president of the Apollo Investment Corporation from 2012-2016. Goldthorpe sits on several boards, including for Portman Ridge Financial and Crescent Point Energy Corp.
*Rich Ehrman – He is the CEO of VNN out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s a privately held high school sports marketing and media network that Ehrman joined this past July. He worked at General Electric in the late 90s, moved to corporate development at NBC Universal from 2000-2005 and is listed as the founder of the L4 Media Group from 2005-2008, and BlackTorch Capital where he was also a managing partner from 2008-2011.
*Robert Foster – The president & CEO of Capital Canada Limited, where he has worked since 1975. He is a chair and board member of numerous Canadian-based companies and was also part of the transition team for Toronto Mayor John Tory when he was elected in 2014.
*Scott Honour – Managing Partner at Northern Pacific Group in Minnesota. In 2014, as a political rookie, he launched a campaign to run for Governor of Minnesota as a Republican.
*Loudon Owen – The chairman and CEO of DLT Labs. He has had a long affiliation with Anthem. He had previously founded McLean Watson Capital, a venture capital firm. Owen was the chairman of a tech firm called i4i that defeated Microsoft in court over patent infringement with the tech company awarded $290 million in 2011.

**The Verge has a big story on the WWE Network’s switch from Disney Streaming Services (previously BAMTech) over to Endeavor Streaming and Massive Interactive earlier this year. Endeavor Streaming handles the content delivery, transcoding, and customer billing while Massive was behind the entire redesign of the service and adding the enhanced search functions and video quality (the resolution is now 1080p from the prior resolution of 720p).

The switch occurred before SummerSlam and the article features an interview with WWE co-president George Barrios explaining some of the issues that have arisen. It notes certain content disappearing, and audio/video syncing problems among the issues.

Barrios confirmed their plan of introducing a free, regular, and premium tiered system to the network stating that the free content would be coming in “weeks not months”. The hope is that all the changes will be introduced by next summer, including a new Download-To-Go feature for offline viewing of programming. He was less open to 4K programming stating they have experimented with it but will follow the market trends comparing to going full HD in 2008 once 25-30% of users had TVs that were capable of HD viewing.

There was also an interesting part in the article with regards to their YouTube strategy and finding the balance between keeping audiences engaged that may not following Raw and SmackDown, but also keeping their cable numbers strong without driving people to the easily digestible YouTube version of the shows.

Finally, Barrios was asked about the emergence of AEW and launching on TNT, which he stated: “Welcome to the game, we’ll see how it goes.”

**Ring of Honor’s next pay-per-view is “Death Before Dishonor” on Friday, September 27th from Sam’s Town Live in Las Vegas. Below are the current matches scheduled for the show:
*Matt Taven vs. Rush for the ROH title
*The Briscoes vs. Mark Haskins & Bandido for the ROH tag titles
*Shane Taylor vs. Flip Gordon vs. Tracy Williams for the ROH Television title
*Kelly Klein vs. Angelina Love for the Women of Honor title
*Marty Scurll vs. Colt Cabana in the opening round of the #1 contender’s tournament
*PCO vs. Kenny King in the opening round of the #1 contender’s tournament
*Jay Lethal vs. Jonathan Gresham

**Pro Wrestling NOAH’s N-1 Victory tournament final takes place next Monday in Osaka. Takashi Sugiura won the A Block with eight points and takes on Kenou, who won the B Block with six. Impact is sending Rhino to wrestle Masa Kitamiya on that show, as well.

**UK wrestler Gabriel Kidd is going to Los Angeles to train at the New Japan Dojo.

**The National Wrestling Alliance has announced that Colt Cabana will be wrestling at the upcoming tapings on September 30th and October 1st in Atlanta, Georgia at GPB Studios.

**New Japan Pro Wrestling has added The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express to the upcoming U.S tour. The tag team will be working September 27th in Lowell, Massachusetts, September 28th at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, and September 29th at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. The New York and Philadelphia shows are sold out. New Japan has also added Lance Archer, Rocky Romero, and Roppongi 3K to the tour.

**On this week’s GRAPPL Spotlight, which Richard “Benno” Benson is part of, they discuss the Rev Pro incident involving referee Aaren Wilde in-depth regarding the responses from Rev Pro, Josh Bodom, and Sha Samuels.

**Dustin Poirier is angling for a rematch against Conor McGregor following his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov this past weekend at UFC 242. Poirier and McGregor fought in September 2014 at UFC 178 where McGregor defeated him by TKO in the first round. The loss prompted Poirier to return to lightweight and went on an incredible run of 9-1 (1 no contest) to earn the title fight with Nurmagomedov. For McGregor, he has numerous options at lightweight and no one can outright dismiss the notion of a rematch with Nurmagomedov, although it would seem so unjust for Tony Ferguson to be passed on but that’s the game when you have a fight of that magnitude.

**The combination of an afternoon card and running on FX opposed to ESPN led to the UFC 242 prelims only doing 222,000 viewers this past weekend. The prelims were headlined by Joanne Calderwood vs. Andrea Lee and ran from Noon – 2 pm Eastern going into the pay-per-view from Abu Dhabi.

**Colt Cabana is doing an improv comedy show at the iO Theatre in Chicago Wednesday night with Marty Derosa and Sarah Shockey also part of the event.

**Ric Flair promotes the Hella Mega Tour next year featuring Green Day, Weezer, and Fallout Boy:

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About John Pollock 5653 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.