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Impact Wrestling not being renewed by Spike TV is the biggest thing that could happen to the company, something that puts them in tremendous jeopardy. TNA could lose some of their top talent, they could cut back on some PPVs, they could draw poor crowds to house shows, but they absolutely could not lose their TV deal. But what does losing that deal really mean for the company?
For starters, TNA is not dead, at least not yet. Yes, Spike dropping them is a huge blow, but there is still a chance that TNA lands on its feet, but they will have to get lucky. There is still a chance that another national television network gives TNA two hours in primetime like Spike did, and while their audience would take an initial hit, they would still in theory, find themselves in a similar position as they were when they were on Spike.
The big question mark is what network is going to give TNA that opportunity that Spike did. Spike caught some flak for not advertising TNA enough, but in reality, Spike was a godsend for TNA. Wrestling in 2014 isn't really hot TV for networks, just look at WWE's latest TV deal. WWE had one of the top shows on cable, but their TV deal still flopped hard. TNA was very fortunate that a network was willing to put on an often-times substandard wrestling show, for nearly a decade.
Spike was not a small-fry in the television industry. Yes, their ratings were disappointing at times, but under the Viacom umbrella, Spike was available in 85% of American homes, which is just as many homes as any other cable network, including stations like TBS, ESPN, USA and AMC. Spike gave TNA a weekly outlet to 85% of the United States, which is huge for a wrestling company.
For TNA to be in a situation similar to the one when they were on Spike, they need to find a network with as great of accessibility. Here is a list of all the cable networks in the USA and what percentage of homes they are in: tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2013/08/23/list-of-how-many-homes-each-cable-networks-is-in-cable-network-coverage-estimates-as-of-august-2013/199072
Take a look at the networks that match Spike's 85%. How many of them would be willing to give a wrestling show two hours of primetime? Obviously, networks like Food Network, HGTV and Animal Planet are out of the question, and other networks that might make sense, like FX or TBS, have average primetime ratings that greatly exceed what TNA typically gets, so there is no way they would free up some space for a wrestling show of TNA's caliber.
Some fans will think that surely some network would give TNA a chance, because even though TNA's ratings were often the butt of jokes, getting near a 1.0 every week is still much better then what many networks do. While that is true, not all 1.0 ratings are created equal. A big thorn in the side of wrestling companies is that advertisers don't believe that advertising to wrestling fans is as profitable as advertising to other TV audiences, whether that be sports, reality TV, sitcoms or whatever. They believe (and hey, maybe this is true) that wrestling fans are mostly stupid hicks, who of course, don't have a lot of disposable income, which makes for a poor advertising audience. A wrestling show getting a 1.0 is not as beneficial to a network as a reality show getting a 1.0 (or in TNA's case, a re-run of COPS). That 1.0 might as well be a .60.
Need any proof? Just take a look at WWE's recent TV deal. While Raw consistently beats things like the NBA on TNT, they didn't get a TV deal in the same stratosphere as the NBA did with Turner, because wrestling audiences are not as valued as other audiences. WCW might have sucked at the end, but getting a 2.0 rating is nothing to sneeze at. Still, no TV company would take in Nitro, again, because a 2.0 for wrestling is not the same as a 2.0 for anything else.
So if TNA cannot find a home for Impact with a network as big as Spike, what can they do? They could strike a deal with a smaller network, that could be happy to have Impact in its lineup. A station like Esquire Network or something like that might pop up and snatch TNA. If they go that route, they will make a lot less money and get much lower ratings, but it will give them at least a chance to keep doing TV tapings and continue producing a product to broadcast overseas. Another option could be to sign on with a bigger network (if they want them) but not be broadcasted in prime time. For example, maybe Impact airs at midnight on Tru TV instead of in primetime. The ramifications would be similar to what would happen if they signed with a smaller network, less money and a smaller audience, but still an opportunity to survive.
One thing is for certain; TNA cannot survive if it doesn't find a home, and fast. There were talks of TNA struggling financially even before Spike announced they would drop them, and now without Spike, things are only going to get worse. TNA is going to have to cut costs everywhere, talent is probably going to be diminished, and the production value cut. The international deals are not nearly enough to keep them afloat, and live attendance and PPV buys are often very poor. Really, the only thing that kept TNA from being an indy company like ROH was that it had a national TV deal. Without that, TNA will probably fall behind ROH in attendance, since their already dwindling live attendance will only grow smaller without a major TV outlet. TNA has never had to operate like an indy company, but without a TV deal like the one they had with Spike, they will have to. With TNA already rumored to be in debt, a loss of TV revenue very well could be the end for TNA, with Panda Energy pulling the plug and selling the company. Only time will tell.