Tony Khan on media rights negotiations: ‘We're going to make a great deal for AEW’

Originally published at Tony Khan on media rights negotiations: ‘We're going to make a great deal for AEW’

AEW President Tony Khan has said of the company’s current media negotiations, “The distribution of our shows is going to be a great situation, I promise.”

He was speaking to Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez on Wrestling Observer Radio (subscription required).

In the wide-ranging interview, Khan spoke about AEW’s media rights negotiations and recent television ratings.

Speaking about the ongoing talks for the company’s rights package, he said:

I’m having great talks with Warner Bros. Discovery and as a group, our business side, really, we’ve done a lot of work. I think we’ve had a lot of great meetings and we feel like we’re in a really, really good place…The distribution of our shows is going to be a great situation, I promise. We’re going to make a great deal for AEW.

Using a football analogy, Khan said that the company was headed for the goal line and was “in the red zone.”

When asked about being in an exclusive negotiating window with Warner Bros. Discovery, he stated:

Mr. Zaslav [WBD’s Chief Executive Officer] has been tremendous with us and I really value that relationship and the history we have here. So right now, all of our property is on Warner Bros. Discovery, except for our pay-per-view business, which is relatively agnostic right now…I think there are a lot of potential models for that going forward too. So that’s something to talk about.

It’s yet to be determined what parts of AEW programming will be here [at WBD] and I love having everything here in terms of the TV and having a lot of different options for streaming, but potentially all these things are on the table going forward.

[…]

There’s a lot of things to be talked about. In addition to Max, obviously, a lot of people are talking about Venu Sports [a streaming service to be operated as a joint venture between the Walt Disney Company, Fox Corporation, and Warner Bros. Discovery]…So there’s a lot of really interesting, exciting things. But what’s really cool is I don’t think that Warner Bros. has had such a hands-on boss who has overseen the studios like this since Ted Turner was here…You know, there is a supreme commander at the top of Warner Bros. Discovery and he loves AEW. And I have a great relationship with him. And I think it’s going to go a long way towards really keeping something that’s very important to me alive, which is wrestling on TBS and TNT.

That’s a really good thing for the company to have he support of the head of the studio, one of the top, most powerful people in Hollywood who loves AEW, loves what we’re doing, and has gotten a look under the hood of AEW also very publicly.

It’s not a secret that they also seen what WWE is doing, have analyzed it and done the comps. And I think there’s a very glass-half-full story to that, which is they stuck with us, and they want to be with us. And they had a chance to make a deal with someone else and they didn’t. And, you know, so that’s really something I think that’s very important because when you look at the money that’s being spent on media rights and what’s out there, I think AEW, we provided great value for the dollar and I think we’ll continue to provide great value.

When it was put to Khan that AEW’s crucial male 18-34 demographic had weakened in recent times, Khan replied:

Most shows would kill for our 18 to 34. They would. And I want to continue, you know, building. I think that having MJF back in recent weeks is going to be very good. Jon Moxley, you know, I’m excited about the summer schedule. He’s defending the IWGP world title, but I have a lot of dates on Jon Moxley in the summer…Mox is somebody who’s moved the needle big time. And then of course we have other great stars like Kenny Omega, Adam Cole, Hangman.

[…]

I think the most important key point is that for us, we’ve had historically really strong numbers and maintain really, really strong numbers in TV. And that is the thing we need to do is keep doing what we’re doing because the numbers we have are numbers people in TV would kill to have.

On comparisons with WWE, Khan said:

I really need to focus on doing good shows for AEW, not about what competition is doing. I think that, in this case, our competition going out ahead of us and getting good media rights deals was a positive for us and actually is good for us because we have very good historical comps and these comps are very favorable for us.

So that’s one thing I’ve done is a ton of market research and retain top analysts and data scientists…Most TV shows would kill for our ratings and demos. And in sports, we skew really young.

And instead of focusing on when Kenny Omega and MJF and Adam Cole were on the show every week, in addition to all these other wrestlers, and Mox was here every week and everything was running perfect, then yes, we’ve had these demos that are, you know, even better than what we’ve had, but yet, right now, we maintain some of the best demos in sports.

I love how he talks about not focusing on WWE only to immediately talk about WWE lol.

Regardless, I hope he follows his own advice in the bigger picture.

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He’s clearly speaking about two different things.

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Tony isn’t a smart man lol

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Tony Khan is smart. The issue AEW has right now, is that he, as the principal creative has limitations to how much time he has to develop good stories. AEW needs writers, not for promos and what not, but writers that can help realize stories to tell from point A to
b and develop meaningful milestones along the way.

Too much is lost show by show, by not having characters realized and their intentions and motives clarified. It makes Khan’s booking predictable and leaves too many characters lacking clear logic for their choices and direction.

And they have a cognitive bias to staff writers, like it’s a hallmark of MacMahon lead WWE creative and too cumbersome for their shows. When HHH has proven otherwise, first in NXT and now through the main roster shows. AEW doesn’t need many, but do need more than they currently have.

I’m pointing out the irony of his statement in jest, relax. I have no idea why you take it so personally. Tony khan acts like a jackass on social media so he’s fair game (as long as it’s not crossing any lines).

No need for personal shots at myself or Alex.

Instead of saying most people will kill for his 18 to 34 rating why not trying to point out why he’s competing with NXT instead of with WWE. Why doesn’t he come out and say yeah we’re so awesome that we barely beat the developmental brand. We are no longer in the same galaxy as the main roster.

He’s delusional, everything is a positive spin and all roses. Yet without the Big Bang theory reruns he’s probably thrown off cable.

But I mean, he’s the same guy who booked a tournament for the main event at the biggest PPV in his company for a shot ar the title and you have this idiot Shingo who doesn’t even wrestle in their promotion in the match and tournament instead of MJF and John Moxley

Because yeah, that makes sense. Let’s have him book the Rumble, with basically the same prize. I’m sure he will bench Cody and CM Punk and instead have Goto come out at number 30

I think the problem is they were once close to competing with raw until one went up and the other went down. So while I wouldn’t expect them to be raw, they were far closer a few years ago.

I mean, what do you expect someone trying to promote their product to say other than “were going to do the best for the company and our clients?” :laughing:

While the talent can be argued, this format is similar in kind but different in type to the G1 and WK, where talent from other promotions enter the tournament for a chance to win that “leagues” biggest prize. This is more a sports-style build to a main event than storyline build (right now) and you’ve made it clear you want a soap opera. Give it time before totally destroying it as useless.

you can do both if you are a great storyteller - which @Benjamin has wonderfully pointed out Tony is not. They are not mutually exclusive.

How many times to I need to reiterate AEW needs to hire a storyboard editor or a storyteller as an executive guiding hand on storyline cohesion, talent useage, and character development before anyone considers it valid? Ten times? For five years?

We also need to let things breathe and not absolutely destroy something that has only just begun in its first useage for this purpose (this being the first Owen used to determine main event).

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You know I totally get you can have other competitors in a tournament like this and book it like G1. But this is the equivalent of booking G1 without any of your top stars.

If this is supposed to be for the main event at the biggest paper of the year, and is to an event like G1 or the rumble, why are MJF and Moxley and Jericho uninterested in this?

If it’s sports style, then it makes even less sense that as a competitor whose goal is to be world champion, you don’t want to enter this tournament.

It’s just senseless.

I literally said

That means the talent in this tournament can be argued but I’m not doing that and talking about the idea in principle, without a populated field of actual talents.

Talent usage - be it how they’re deployed or how tournaments are populated - is one of the major weaknesses in this promotion and, as you’ve pointed out, in this tournament.

Maybe I’m not clear when I write here, but I literally have no critiques on the talent besides that you’ve raised good points as to the talent in the tournament.

Whatevs. :woman_shrugging:

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This is a character motivation issue. This is a talent utilization issue. This is a storytelling issue. We agree.

I’m talking a step below you - think taxonomically - I’m talking phylum, you’re talking family level. I’m not speaking at the specificity level you are. But if I were, the complaints would be valid and fall in line with this promotion’s major issues.

Edit: you raise Moxley not being in the Owen as the NJPW champion, which he should (making the AEW title the title to chase), while his loss in the tournament could’ve set up his inevitable title loss. Again, this is a storytelling and talent utilization issue that is at a specificity level I was not speaking to. But right there, the tournament is stronger and you get to the same ends.

I’ll go. Bye guys!!! :blush::kissing_heart:

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This is not just an AEW problem, but I agree with this. It’s flawed (but easily correctable) pro wrestling logic that has been around forever. A company will have a tournament or battle royal for a world title shot – or even a secondary title – and three random jobbers or tag team guys will be in it while a bunch of upper midcarders continue their feud over nothing.

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WWE just did this with Q/KotR… They didn’t have all of their top stars competing either.

Hangman Page, Jay White, Bryan Daniellson, Hikaru Shida, Willow Nightengale, Kris Statlander, Serena Deed, and Saraya are all main event talent.

It’s their third time running this tournament and the title shot seemed like a late add on. I would imagine that next year will be different. Also considering that WWE may use Q/KotR in the same way next year.

The G1 has been around much longer and has had a lot more wear and tear, tries and fails and so on in its history. And, is male only.

Yesterday’s episode of Dynamite really helped sell their direction. Even though it’s predictably booked, it’s become more compelling than it started as.

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I didn’t watch yesterday’s episode, but it seems like a lot of people were pretty high on it. But I figure because it’s a holiday. Nobody watched it.

I’m definitely going to buy it all in. It seems the main event will be Brian Danielson finally winning the title by beating swerve.

Outside of that, I just hope the young bucks aren’t on the show. Would love it if Chris Jericho wasn’t either.

Not really looking forward to Britt versus Mercedes although I know some people are.

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No, it doesn’t.
That’s what some podcasters have decided, but clearly not the direction.

It’s a fantastic episode. Definitely recommend.

Please don’t tell me it’s useless Hangman in that role :pensive:

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Just watch!! :joy:

I love that I never know what you enjoy, even after all these years.

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Ha ha. I like good storylines and storytelling. I really like Brian Danielson and he’s one of my favourites of all time. I would love to see him in a main event winning a title.

I would’ve loved to seen Will Osprey. I loved the main event with him and swerve.

I’m not a hangman fan. The only member of the elite I truly like is Kenny I’m not so high on seeing them again especially because that bloodbath was already insane

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I think Hangman is AEW’s “Main Character”, the same way Best Hart was WWF’s "Main Character throughout the 90’s. I just connect with him as a talent more than anybody else.

The story between him and Swerve was one of the best things of last year, and the motivation behind Page is clear. The world has gone crazy and they support Swerve. Hangman needs to right this wrong.

First step, putting down the last outlaw.
Second step, trampling the hopes of the American Dragon.
Third step, conquering Swerve, no matter the costs, at Wembley.

People want a good story, it’s always there with Hangman.

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