In a recent episode of his podcast "Strictly Business," hosted by AdFreeShows, former WCW Executive Producer and Senior Vice President Eric Bischoff delved into the shifting landscapes of the wrestling world, particularly focusing on WWE's "SmackDown" and AEW's TV rights.
His insights come amid significant network changes for WWE programming, with "SmackDown" set to transition from FOX to the USA Network in October 2024, and "WWE NXT" moving to the CW Network, partly owned by Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), in September 2024.
Bischoff, known for his seasoned perspective in the industry, expressed keen interest in AEW's future with WBD, given the company's 30% stake in AEW. He highlighted the importance of this partnership in the ever-evolving television rights scenario.
Additionally, Bischoff mentioned unconfirmed rumors about WBD's potential interest in WWE's "Raw," speculating on the intriguing outcomes such a move could precipitate.
Wrestling's Ad Revenue Challenges
A critical point raised by Bischoff concerned the advertising challenges faced by wrestling shows, despite their strong viewership.
He referenced a statement from a FOX executive, potentially Lachlan Murdoch, noting the network's difficulty in affording "SmackDown" due to its lower ad rates, despite its high audience numbers and demographic appeal. Bischoff explained this as an "opportunistic buy" in advertising terms, where shows like "SmackDown" and AEW, despite their popularity, command lower costs per thousand (CPM) compared to other genres like drama or comedy.
This advertising conundrum, as outlined by Bischoff, points to a broader issue within the wrestling industry, highlighting the need for innovative approaches to monetize viewership effectively. As these wrestling giants navigate their new network homes, their strategies in tackling these commercial challenges will be crucial in shaping their future success.
The landscape of wrestling entertainment is undergoing a dynamic shift, with major players like WWE and AEW at the forefront of these changes. As they transition to new networks and grapple with the intricacies of TV rights and advertising economics, the industry watches closely, anticipating the next moves in this high-stakes arena.