As we previously reported, TNT and All Elite Wrestling earlier today teased a big announcement coming “very soon.”
It was officially announced this past May that AEW will being airing live on TNT each week in the fall. While it has not been confirmed officially, it is rumored that the show will air on Wednesday nights starting on October 2nd, which is the week when WWE SmackDown Live will move to Friday nights on FOX. According to Dave Meltzer on the latest edition of Wrestling Observer Radio, people in the television industry are estimating that the debut AEW on TNT episode will average 400,000 – 500,000 viewers.
It will be interesting to see what kind of audience AEW will garner for its premiere since this is the first time that a promotion outside of WWE has done weekly live television in prime time on a network with the reach of TNT. In 2018, TNT averaged 1.323 million viewers in prime time. While AEW has never aired on broadcast television in the U.S., the All In pre-show last September, All In: Zero Hour, aired on WGN America and averaged 196,000 viewers. It ranked 85th for the day on cable and was the only show from WGN America to make the top 150 list. Impact Wrestling that week averaged 225,000 viewers on POP TV.
NXT, which may end moving to FS1 and opposing AEW on Wednesday nights, only aired once on the USA Network in its current format as part of “WWE Week” in December of 2017. That episode averaged 841,000 viewers, less than a third of the 2.684 million viewers for RAW and 2.481 million viewers for SmackDown that week.
TNA debuted on Spike TV on Saturday nights in October 2005 with a better than expected 0.8 rating (around 850,000 viewers). The show would grow its audience and was eventually expanded to two hours and moved to Thursdays, where it would average between 1 million – 1.5 million viewers. The show twice hit 2.2 million viewers during their run on Spike, with the last time being in October of 2011. In its final year on Spike in 2014, the show was moved to Wednesdays, where it would average between 900,000 – 1 million viewers. Impact has since been moved to various networks, and is currently estimated at averaging around 10,000 viewers weekly on Pursuit TV.
At AEW Fight For The Fallen earlier this month, Wrestling Inc. asked AEW President Tony Khan when details on their weekly TV show will be announced. Khan stated that the nights of the week, as well as venues for their first television tapings, will be made before next month’s All Out event in Chicago on August 31.
“It won’t be that long, it’s coming, it’s coming,” Khan said. “There will definitely be announcements soon and I would say, we’ve got a lot to do before All Out. … I would say well before All Out. I can’t give an exact date, but certainly before All Out, but we’re really focusing on getting to All Out. Along the way, I’ll definitely have more information.
“We’ll definitely make an announcement before All Out of the night and some dates, it will be really exciting. Hopefully, announce what we’re going to do. A really big debut showed planned and after that I’m really excited because I think there’s been a void for a long time. The interest we’ve done and the business we’re doing shows there’s a real, genuine demand for our product and that there is a demand for wrestling with these kind of production values, this caliber of wrestling, the focus on wrestling, and this kind of mindset we have for it. People questioned if there was enough audience to sustain a major league, high-production value, second wrestling company, nationally, weekly. I think we’ve shown there is, there isn’t any question now. We made a big gamble and I think it’s going to pay off.”
Joshua Gagnon contributed to this article.