AEW has lost a major supporter at WarnerMedia.
Kevin Reilly is gone from WarnerMedia due to a major restructuring under newly-installed CEO Jason Kilar, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Reilly was instrumental in AEW getting their TNT TV deal. He worked as the Content Chief at WarnerMedia, and as the President of TNT, TBS and TruTV.
The Hollywood Reporter noted that the series of moves will prioritize HBO Max and streamline Warner’s content operations. There will be a newly-created Studios & Networks Group, which will combine content studios and programming across Warner Bros., TNT, TBS, TruTV, HBO and HBO Max. The group will oversee all WarnerMedia TV series and film development, production and programming. You can read the full report on the restructuring at The Hollywood Reporter.
There is no word yet on how Reilly’s dismissal might impact AEW, if at all. AEW had been set to introduce a third hour of programming to WarnerMedia, but that has not happened yet. The shake up at WarnerMedia is seen as a major story.
“This news is gigantic. Can’t express how big. Reilly was the one who greenlit AEW, really was the guy who was a large part of why there is an AEW,” wrote Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter on Twitter.
AEW President & CEO Tony Khan has stated in media interviews that the possibility of bringing pro wrestling back to Turner Broadcasting for the first time since the end of WCW in 2001 began with he and Reilly meeting at a party in Los Angeles, where Khan pitched the idea. Reilly was open to that idea and within 18 months AEW Dynamite was premiering on TNT. Reilly was the one who renewed the AEW TV deal through 2024 earlier this year.
Reilly spoke with Variety earlier this year about getting together with Khan for AEW.
“I just had this idea that this was the time to invest,” Reilly said in January of this year. “This is a startup. It’s already over-delivered out of the gate. That’s really when you want to hit the gasoline a little bit. The guys already have ideas about additional talent and things they want to do and I wanted to incentivize them as a partner to do that. We also wanted to gave fans and talent who potentially want to come work with us the sense that this is here to stay. You can invest in it, it’s here to stay, and it’s only going to get better.”
In that same Variety interview, Reilly noted that the AEW Dark series on YouTube would eventually migrate to TNT, to be built into a network show.
“We just figured,’Let’s bring it onto the network and make it a place where you truly plant up and coming talent,'” he said. “I think we’ll start doing more packages there and filming some behind-the-scenes stuff, not for the matches that night but with other talent to plant stories and grow things that could eventually become another show in and of itself.”
Khan has also publicly talked about Reilly in recent months. He commented on working with Reilly during the press release for the new AEW TNT Title issued back on March 30.
“It’s been a privilege working with Kevin Reilly and TNT to bring fans the best live wrestling show week after week on AEW: DYNAMITE, especially during these tumultuous times,” Khan said in the TNT Title announcement. “I’m glad we’re now able to announce the TNT CHAMPIONSHIP. The first ever titleholder will be determined by an unforgettable tournament that fans will not want to miss, and that our wrestlers will be desperate to win. I’m excited for the announcement of the full bracket live on Dynamite this week. And, it’s only fitting that the champion and the title belt will carry the logo of the globally-respected TNT brand, and that they’ll represent not only AEW but also the great quality programming, massive reach, and storied history in the wrestling business that are all associated with TNT.”
Khan mentioned Reilly again in a May 27 tweet thanking everyone for the Double Or Nothing 2020 success.
“Thank you all who watched Double or Nothing & made it a huge success 2 years in a row! We’ve officially been in business for 1 year now & we owe it all to great fans supporting us + Kevin Reilly & our partners at WarnerMedia! Good luck on the big #HBOMax launch today, my friends!,” Khan said in the tweet.
Stay tuned for updates on the story and how the restructuring might impact AEW.