During a recent interview with Monaco Streaming Film Festival, AEW President Tony Khan continued his ongoing discussion about All Elite Wrestling growing in various business metrics. One feat in particular Tony is proud of is the fact Dynamite and Rampage have both been the #1 show on the cable top 150 since they premiered.
“I think the rise of AEW has fueled competition. WWE was in a strong position already — they had good demographics, and strong presentation, and, you know, a stronger roster before AEW came along. In the last few years, the free agency that has come into pro wrestling since we launched AEW, and now, more competition, better matches on television has led to more fans being interest,” Tony said. “It’s brought fans back to professional wrestling, and there’s a bigger audience for wrestling than there’s been in a long time in terms of live attendance, merchandising, and now, pay-per-view buys were at all-time highs.
“We’ve built this great TV audience, and in a world where people talk about linear TV and the future of cable and satellite, the most important thing to me is just to maintain that #1 position,” he continued. “Or, at least be in the top #5/top #10 shows and the chance to be at or #1 the most that we can. When we launched AEW Dynamite in October 2019, we didn’t hit #1 right away and it took awhile for us. It wasn’t until April 14, 2021 when we finally reached that position. And since then, we’ve done it many times and we’re just coming off of a streak where we’ve been the #1 show on cable and satellite for six straight weeks on Wednesday night.”
Khan concedes that Rampage hasn’t reached as many viewers since the episode in which CM Punk made his AEW debut. But with committed fans and more promotion, Tony is convinced it won’t be long until they’re back in that #1 spot.
“It took us two years for Dynamite to hit #1 of the week, and it only took us two for Rampage to do that. Our second episode has hit that. It’s a challenge Friday nights at 10 o’ clock to get good viewership. We’ve seen great audience though, relative to the time slot. We’re still being top in the slot, and I really believe with our fan base, they follow us. As long as we promote it and keep delivering great matches, they follow us practically everywhere we go because they really love AEW,” Tony said. “So, within reason, I want to keep finding ways to give them great content without oversaturating, also. So right now, I do feel like we’re in a sweet spot with the amount of wrestling for everybody. They seem to have found a good groove, and I’ve coined a phrase recently: ‘WYW’. Watch your wrestling, and I just want people to find what they like, enjoy it, and, for us, AEW gives three hours of great TV programming each week.
The co-owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars claims that the television rights fees that AEW brings in are the closest to WWE than any other company has been since the ’90s. He also touted the success of AEW’s recent pay-per-views, noting that All Out in September sold over 200,000 pay-pre-view buys.
“We have bigger rights fees, by far, than any wrestling company besides WWE. But I have to tip my hat to how great the rights fees and revenue of WWE are and the business that they’ve built, but it’s also a business that’s been built over 40+ years. And it was also a business that was purchased, and has been built up over those 40+ years, as opposed to AEW, which is not a business I bought,” Tony explained. “It’s a business we started from scratch. And so, not only any other wrestling company that has come along in that time, but no other wrestling company, period, [has had these rights fees]. No matter how long they’ve been around, other than WWE, no other wrestling company has done that since the ’90s. Which, to your point, was the last wrestling boom, which is why we’re here, I guess, talking about this wrestling boom.
“We’ve seen a lift in our pay-per-view numbers year by year. We have four quarterly events and each one of them has been up from the year prior, so our Q1 and Q2 events, Double or Nothing and All Out, we have presented three of those and each one of them has gone up year after year, significantly. And the biggest lift yet was the recent one that we got for All Out… we sold well over 200,000 pay-per-views worldwide, which is, like I said, not just a record for AEW but far more than any company has done since the 1990s really, since the last boom of wrestling. And our SVOD subscriptions on Fite have more than doubled in just a couple months, since CM Punk signed up. Which is amazing because those subscriptions had been accumulating for almost two years before that.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Monaco Streaming Film Festival with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.