During a recent episode of Strictly Business with Eric Bischoff, the former WCW President spoke about casual fans in wrestling and the Discovery/WarnerMedia merger and the impact it will have on AEW.
In a previous episode, Bischoff suggested how much money it costs to produce AEW television and the flatlining audience numbers they’ve had and if that’s attractive to Discovery with news of the merger coming up. Continuing to talk about that concept, Eric Bischoff revamped his take on AEW after news came out that Discovery will be leaning into the traditional unscripted programming as opposed to the scripted side.
“If I’m in AEW right now, I’m looking at it as a positive thing,” Bischoff said. “In our conversation a couple of weeks ago on Strictly Business, we were talking about who knows what David Zaslav and company are going to do with TBS and TNT and I used Paramount TV as an example. One of the things we spoke about is what if Discovery leans into what’s made them successful which is non-scripted, call it a reality but docu-dramas, traditional documentaries. If that’s the direction that Discovery is going to lean into, I’d be happy and I’d love to hear that if I’m AEW. That means that they’re focusing on cost, don’t get me wrong they’re still going to focus on their audience and it’s too early to pop champagne corks over in AEW because there’s still so much we don’t know. We’re not going to have any clear indication as to the direction they’re going for at least six months to a year before we hear about it. It’s still early but if I’m in AEW right now, I’m feeling pretty good because they’re not going in the direction that Paramount went in.”
“I would breathe a little bit of a sigh of relief, not getting too excited yet but I would also be anticipating what life is going to look like when I’ve got one or two or more executives wanting to know exactly what is going on on next week’s program.”
The WWE Hall of Famer was also asked whether or not wrestling is attractive to a network given its weekly episodic nature compared to a drama or series with only 26 episodes of run each season. In answering the question, Eric Bischoff talked about the importance of ad sales and why it’s the only major data point that matters.
“It’s driven by ad sales and ad sales performance,” Bischoff said. “The answer to your question is tied directly to how successful is Turner Ad Sales in selling that inventory. If the answer is they’re pretty happy with it and getting the kind of advertisers they’re hoping to attract and they’re getting CPMs or pricing that allows them to be profitable or competitive. If the answer to that is yes, they’re doing okay then the answer to your question is they’re really happy.
“Because now they’ve got a program that doesn’t cost them an arm and a leg to produce and in AEW’s case you’re looking at 45 million a year, from what I’ve read, in licensing fees for 104 hours of programming. As far as programming is concerned, that’s pretty cheap. But that doesn’t matter if you can’t sell the inventory or if they do sell the inventory it’s opportunistic bottom feeder pricing. If that’s the case then from a programming point of view you don’t want more, you want less. It’s all about making a return on the investment on that beach-front property that’s called prime time. If you’re in primetime it’s all about ad sales, it’s the only data point that really matters folks.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Strictly Business with Eric Bischoff with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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