During the latest episode of Strictly Business with Eric Bischoff, NBCUniversal Business Affairs Manager Mik Pandit joined the show to talk about the future of streaming in the wrestling business and the advantages AEW would have if they chose to land on HBO Max. Pandit mentioned whether or not AEW is currently making the right move staying on TBS/TNT and whether they should get to a streaming platform as soon as possible.
“I don’t think AEW though has maximized their ceiling domestically yet,” Pandit said. “To the point to where they need to start looking internationally.
“There’s a large portion of the American audience for whom is under the age of 25, a very very important demographic, who if you are not streaming your content, might as well not exist. To me, while I understand there are partnership concerns with AEW, they just got a deal with Warner a couple of years ago and want that to be a healthy long term partnership and it might not look so great to say ‘hey, appreciate everything you’ve done for us, but we’re going to sell this other show to Paramount.’ I think it’s pretty bad that they’re not currently, in 2022, able to be consumed on a streaming network, and the only place you can find their content is on cable television.”
When All Elite Wrestling was first announced back in 2019, many debated where the show would land on either a streaming platform or linear television. Ultimately AEW landed a deal with TNT, but Mik Pandit revealed whether that was the right move or not. The NBCUniversal Executive also mentioned one thing that Nick Khan and Vince McMahon are doing that AEW isn’t doing right now.
“I think that the value that you derive and the money you can get from being on a streaming platform is directly related to the amount of people that you can bring with your content and sustain and stay on that platform,” Pandit said. “So I don’t think Tony made the wrong decision by going to linear, in three years look how much has changed. I would say everyone says TV is dying, it’s going to be gone soon but I find that we’re going to hit a point where there is a floor to cable subscriptions. I don’t think TV, linear television, will ever go away because, for a certain segment of our population, that’s just such a convenient way to consume content. Some of the content that people care the most about is still only on those platforms. For all we talk about streaming, the only place to watch the NBA Playoffs is on linear television, the only place to watch streaming CNN, FOX, or MSNBC is on linear television. Those are two things people really really care about.
“I think the healthiest way to look at it is to do what Vince and Nick Khan have done is you say we’re going to have our product on broadcast, we’re going to have it on cable, we’re going to have it on streaming, we’re going to have it on next day. You have to go where the consumers currently are and I think that’s what makes the most sense for AEW and I think that is what their big challenge is now. There’s such a big audience of potential wrestling fans who do not have cable television and don’t watch it and are consuming AEW content by looking for it on YouTube but if it were available say on an HBO Max or Paramount or another streaming service, they would go there.”
Pandit also noted that a streaming deal could ultimately lead to fewer people watch the product live on linear television.
“If something is only available on cable television, then people have to have cable television to watch it but if you’re telling me that show is going to be available within 24 hours on a streaming service and it’s only going to cost me $10 a month, why am I going to spend $135-$150 bucks a month to watch it on linear television?” Pandit said. “Why is the network going to pay me an exorbitant amount of money for that show if they know that it’s not going to bring as many eyeballs because people are just going to watch it on streaming. That’s kind of the needle that needs to be a thread. People get paid a lot of money to answer that question, I don’t have the answer to that question.”
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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