Tony Khan on media rights negotiations: ‘We’re going to make a great deal for AEW’

Photo Courtesy: All Elite Wrestling

AEW President Tony Khan has said of the company’s current media negotiations, “The distribution of our shows is going to be a great situation, I promise.”

He was speaking to Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez on Wrestling Observer Radio (subscription required).

In the wide-ranging interview, Khan spoke about AEW’s media rights negotiations and recent television ratings.

Speaking about the ongoing talks for the company’s rights package, he said:

I’m having great talks with Warner Bros. Discovery and as a group, our business side, really, we’ve done a lot of work. I think we’ve had a lot of great meetings and we feel like we’re in a really, really good place…The distribution of our shows is going to be a great situation, I promise. We’re going to make a great deal for AEW.

Using a football analogy, Khan said that the company was headed for the goal line and was “in the red zone.”

When asked about being in an exclusive negotiating window with Warner Bros. Discovery, he stated:

Mr. Zaslav [WBD’s Chief Executive Officer] has been tremendous with us and I really value that relationship and the history we have here. So right now, all of our property is on Warner Bros. Discovery, except for our pay-per-view business, which is relatively agnostic right now…I think there are a lot of potential models for that going forward too. So that’s something to talk about.

It’s yet to be determined what parts of AEW programming will be here [at WBD] and I love having everything here in terms of the TV and having a lot of different options for streaming, but potentially all these things are on the table going forward.

[…]

There’s a lot of things to be talked about. In addition to Max, obviously, a lot of people are talking about Venu Sports [a streaming service to be operated as a joint venture between the Walt Disney Company, Fox Corporation, and Warner Bros. Discovery]…So there’s a lot of really interesting, exciting things. But what’s really cool is I don’t think that Warner Bros. has had such a hands-on boss who has overseen the studios like this since Ted Turner was here…You know, there is a supreme commander at the top of Warner Bros. Discovery and he loves AEW. And I have a great relationship with him. And I think it’s going to go a long way towards really keeping something that’s very important to me alive, which is wrestling on TBS and TNT.

That’s a really good thing for the company to have he support of the head of the studio, one of the top, most powerful people in Hollywood who loves AEW, loves what we’re doing, and has gotten a look under the hood of AEW also very publicly.

It’s not a secret that they also seen what WWE is doing, have analyzed it and done the comps. And I think there’s a very glass-half-full story to that, which is they stuck with us, and they want to be with us. And they had a chance to make a deal with someone else and they didn’t. And, you know, so that’s really something I think that’s very important because when you look at the money that’s being spent on media rights and what’s out there, I think AEW, we provided great value for the dollar and I think we’ll continue to provide great value.

When it was put to Khan that AEW’s crucial male 18-34 demographic had weakened in recent times, Khan replied:

Most shows would kill for our 18 to 34. They would. And I want to continue, you know, building. I think that having MJF back in recent weeks is going to be very good. Jon Moxley, you know, I’m excited about the summer schedule. He’s defending the IWGP world title, but I have a lot of dates on Jon Moxley in the summer…Mox is somebody who’s moved the needle big time. And then of course we have other great stars like Kenny Omega, Adam Cole, Hangman.

[…]

I think the most important key point is that for us, we’ve had historically really strong numbers and maintain really, really strong numbers in TV. And that is the thing we need to do is keep doing what we’re doing because the numbers we have are numbers people in TV would kill to have.

On comparisons with WWE, Khan said:

I really need to focus on doing good shows for AEW, not about what competition is doing. I think that, in this case, our competition going out ahead of us and getting good media rights deals was a positive for us and actually is good for us because we have very good historical comps and these comps are very favorable for us.

So that’s one thing I’ve done is a ton of market research and retain top analysts and data scientists…Most TV shows would kill for our ratings and demos. And in sports, we skew really young.

And instead of focusing on when Kenny Omega and MJF and Adam Cole were on the show every week, in addition to all these other wrestlers, and Mox was here every week and everything was running perfect, then yes, we’ve had these demos that are, you know, even better than what we’ve had, but yet, right now, we maintain some of the best demos in sports.

About Neal Flanagan 902 Articles
Based in Northern Ireland, Neal Flanagan is a former newspaper journalist and copy editor. In addition to reporting for POST Wrestling, he co-hosts The Wellness Policy podcast with Wai Ting and Jordan Goodman.