The more updates regarding the formation Warner Brothers Discovery (WBD), outside a big party, the less it feels like AEW is a priority for the new conglomerate.
The New York Times recently ran a report on WBD executive Luis Silberwasser, who will be in charge of “ushering the company’s sports programming — which includes ‘Inside the NBA,’ the NCAA March Madness men’s basketball tournament and playoff baseball — further into the streaming era.”
The article notes that Silberwasser is being brought in at a time when WBD is trying to both “be disciplined about its spending on content,” while also maintaining its place in the sports streaming pantheon, which means spending more money than ever on rights to broadcast the National Basketball Association.
“Warner Bros. Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav has told Wall Street the company will be disciplined about its spending on content, but he also wants the company to continue to be a major player in the sports-media arena,” the Times article said. “Those two goals could be at odds.”
According to the Sports Business Journal (cited in the article), WBD is currently paying $1.2 billion per year to broadcast the NBA, and if the NBA follows suit with the NFL, those rights fees could double in the next round of negotiations, due to the NBA’s growing popularity around the world.
AEW President Tony Khan was very optimistic just two weeks ago when he spoke with Richard Deitsch about the post-merger plans for AEW expanding into streaming with Warner Brothers Discover. “There’s a lot of potential for us to expand our business into streaming … especially with the new company that’s emerged post-merger,” Khan said on the Sports Media Podcast, “That’s something we’re continuing to talk to them about, and I’m very fortunate to work with such a big company where hopefully we can explore that.” It is not clear if these talks involved Silberwasser or his plans for WBD’s future in sports streaming.
It would be hoped that AEW’s future is part of WBD’s plans in the sports area, as the company was completely left out of a list of “scripted programming,” when Variety recently reported on Warner Media halting production and development of future scripted content. The company also received “little more than a passing mention” during the Warner Brothers upfront presentations in May.
While it remains a possibility that WBD has classified AEW as “reality programming” or “non-scripted programming,” the lack of mention in any trade publication outside of wrestling media paints an interesting portrait of the company’s standing in the growing behemoth that is Warner Brothers Discovery.
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