Tony Khan On When He Stopped Being In Denial About Early AEW Ratings Decline

On this week's Wrestling with Freddie podcast from iHeart Media's My Cultra Network, AEW Owner & President Tony Khan joined Freddie Prinze Jr. for part one of his appearances.

Khan was asked about some of the things he felt he had not been prepared for when launching All Elite Wrestling in January 2019.


"The thing I probably wasn't prepared for at first, the first several months, was getting my hands around doing everything," Tony Khan said. "I don't think anyone ever expected me to get so organized."

Freddie Prinze Jr. wanted Tony to jump into that comment a little deeper, and Khan disclosed his dissatisfaction with where AEW was, particularly in December 2019.

"I was not hands-on about everything [at the beginning of AEW's launch]. I was overseeing everything," Tony explained. "But, it was probably more of a collaborative thing the first several months. And I just felt like, it wasn't organized as I would have liked it to be. We had risen to such great heights and had such a great opportunity and it was all so close. At the end of 2019, we launched the show [Dynamite], had a huge debut, really good ratings, and now doing really great ratings these past few years.


"After the first two months or so, maybe even after the first six-seven weeks, we started to see a dip in, I think it must have been around late November into December, and it continued through December and it was a trend. And I didn't like the way the ratings were going, and clearly, the way the ratings were going was reflecting that the fans didn't like the direction we were going. So I made a lot of changes going into 2020 that I felt really good about in terms of being more organized, and you know, doing all the shows by hand."

Another key turning point was during AEW Dynamite's "Wednesday Night War" with NXT. Khan stated that once they had lost the demo on one particular week, it was his moment to step up and reset.

"We only lost the demo once," Khan said." I think we were head-to-head with NXT for like 76 weeks, and we went 75-1 in the demo. And the 1 was the one that reset me. We had been losing the overall number, which was not the network cared as much, you know, the lead number that was on the report they'd talk to us about, like the actual scoreline.

"Our number was 18-49 that they focused on. But also, you know, looking at the total viewers. In December 2019, we were losing the total viewers but we were still holding onto the demo. And I quit being in denial when we dropped the demo."


If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Wrestling with Freddie with an h/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.