In April, Discovery completed its acquisition of WarnerMedia as the two companies merged to become Warner Bros. Discovery. With this new merger came uncertainty especially among wrestling fans, regarding the fate of AEW. The new Warner Bros. Discovery company didn’t waste time making shakeups as there have been several significant personnel changes at the top, and major cancellations of properties, most notably that of the barely launched CNN+. While AEW’s standing with WarnerMedia had seemed to be rock solid, there was always going to be some concern about what the merger would mean for the wrestling company’s future and tangibles such as a television deal that is due to be renegotiated in December 2023. Recently, on his Wrestling Observer Forum (you must have an account for access), Dave Meltzer seemed to quell some of these concerns as well as provide hope for AEW to have an even bigger presence with the new company, when he noted, “AEW will be getting a big push at the upfronts.”
The upfronts are a period of about two-three months when every major TV and streaming company showcases the best of their portfolio in an effort to pitch advertisers on why they should invest significant sums of money in the company’s programming. Normally companies use this time to showcase trailers for beloved returning shows or pilots for exciting new ventures. Much was the case the first time AEW factored into WarnerMedia’s upfronts. In 2019, the partnership between Turner and AEW was made public in the lead-up to the upfronts that year, with Tony Khan and several AEW wrestlers taking part in the event showcase shortly after the deal was official. In 2021, the upfronts took place virtually due to Covid, but once again, AEW was front and center as the premiere of Rampage was highlighted as was the impending move of Dynamite from TNT to TBS to make way for the new deal the company had signed to continue weekly broadcasts of NHL games.
In 2022, it looks like AEW will be at the forefront again. In addition to Meltzer’s report, Jon Steinlauf, chief U.S. advertising sales officer at Warner Bros. Discovery, echoed a similar sentiment as sports and sports advertising were major talking points in an interview recently conducted with Broadcasting+Cable. “We don’t think an advertiser can really effectively market on national television over those months without sports,” Steinlauf said. “We look at sports as the new primetime. It just decimated everything in its sights from an audience perspective. Even marketers aiming for women have to take a hard look now at the reach of sports for female demographics.”
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world. As well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch AEW Dynamite Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET on TBS and AEW Dark: Elevation (Monday nights) and AEW: Dark (Tuesday nights) at 7 PM ET on YouTube. AEW Rampage airs on TNT at 10 PM EST every Friday night.