The Wall Street Journal has a story here regarding NBCUniversal, which owns the USA Network as well as Bravo, E!, Oxygen and Syfy, reportedly overhauling its entertainment division to focus more on video streaming and less on cable.
As previously reported, both NBCU and WarnerMedia, which owns TNT, have made major changes and cuts internally as the companies have pivoted to streaming. The changes at WarnerMedia are prioritizing the HBO Max streaming service, while the reorganization at NBCU comes as the company is focusing on their streaming service, Peacock.
AEW lost a major supporter after Kevin Reilly was let go from WarnerMedia in August, while WWE lost an ally earlier this month after Chris McCumber was let go by NBCU earlier this month. McCumber reportedly spearheaded the latest negotiations between WWE and NBCU which led to their current big-money TV deal. It was noted that a lot of the cable executives that are being let go are not having their positions refilled.
Despite cable sales generating $11.5 billion of NBCU’s overall $34 billion in revenue in 2019, The Wall Street Journal noted that E! (which airs Total Divas and Total Bellas), Oxygen and Syfy don’t have a long-term future. NBCU’s cable stations, including USA, Bravo, E! and Syfy, have each lost more than 10 million subscribers since 2014.
NBCU issued a statement to the Journal without mentioning the specific networks stating, “NBCUniversal’s cable networks carry some of the most popular programming in the industry and are enormously profitable. They will continue to be a valuable part of our portfolio for fans, advertisers and our shareholders.”
Kevin Reilly, who is responsible for bringing AEW Dynamite to TNT, told The Hollywood Reporter in August that “it’s the great reckoning now” regarding the changes in the industry.
“This has been a decade-plus of the legacy system bound to quarterly profits generated by the same paradigms,” Reilly said. “We’ve only recently begun pivoting meaningfully into the new era. Now with the pandemic as an accelerant, there will not be one corner or sector that will sit with their feet up thinking, ‘I’m good!’
“We’re still sitting with a Nielsen rating measuring L3 [live plus three days of delayed viewing] and they’re [streaming services like Netflix] putting up whole shows without commercials and nobody is measuring it. How do we compete with that? All individual businesses don’t make sense anymore in their individual lanes. They all need to be aligned.”
Both WWE and AEW are unlikely to be affected in the short term as both companies have many years on their existing deals. The landscape of the television industry when those deals expire is anyone’s guess.