Still No TV Deal Between WWE and NBCU, TNA Future in Doubt


Courtesy of Official Impact Wrestling Facebook

It’s been more than two weeks since the exclusive negotiating period between WWE and NBCUniversal expired, and no new television deals have been announced. The WWE has been on the open market since the negotiating period ended.

USA Network and SyFy, which air Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown, are both owned by NBCUniversal. WWE Programming will continue to air on these stations until Sep. 30, even if a licensing agreement is reached with a different carrier.

Money is almost certainly the biggest factor at this point in time. The WWE looks upon itself as a hot commodity with the launch of the WWE Network, and are demanding top dollar for the rights to their programming. It’s possible that the WWE balked at the initial offer made by NBCU and decided to use the marketplace for additional leverage.

If the WWE is offered a higher-paying contract by a competing station, NBCU will still have the option of matching it. WWE programming is a valuable asset for NBCU and they are unlikely to let them slip away easily. There are, however, several networks with significant interest, the most interesting of which is Spike. If Spike were to make an offer WWE couldn’t refuse, it would likely mean the death of TNA Wrestling.

TNA has had a checkered past to say the very least, and many historians consider the promotion one of the worst in history. With a vastly talented roster and years of prime-time television exposure, the company has actually moved backwards.

In 2013, TNA cut back from 12 PPVs a year to four due to a lack of profitability. On average, TNA does 15,000 buys or less per PPV. This means that only 1.5 percent of their television audience actually pays to see the shows the company promotes. TNA has been unable to escape the Impact Zone for similar reasons. Attempts to tape on the road have failed miserably, mostly because people are not willing to pay to see TNA live. At the Impact Zone, admission is free of charge.

The only thing keeping TNA alive is their television contract with Spike, and at this rate, they may only be hanging on by a thread. Even if WWE resigns with NBCU, there’s no guarantee that Spike will extend their contract with TNA.

When the last deal was made with TNA and Spike in 2010, there was a goal in place to increase their audience to 2 million viewers. In more than three years, TNA hasn’t come close to reaching this goal. With no road tapings in sight and zero PPV revenue coming in, Spike may see TNA for the sinking ship that it is and give them the old heave-ho.

Why has TNA been unable to grow their audience? The reasons are actually eerily similar to why WCW went from being the most profitable wrestling promotion in history to extinct: consistently horrible programming/booking. The only difference is that TNA skipped the profitable part. Another similarity with the death of WCW? TNA employed Vince Russo for a decade.

Every year, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter releases a year-end awards issue, with its readership casting the votes for each award. Every year from 2007 to the present, TNA has been voted as the worst promotion of the year. With the exception of 2012, Impact Wrestling has been voted the worst television show each year in the same span.

Of course, not everyone agrees that their programming is terrible. One might say these are the same one million people who have watched Impact for the last three years. No more, no less. It’s too bad none of these viewers seem interested in spending money on the product.

Needless to say, the future of TNA is very much in question, and the WWE’s TV negotiations may be the final nail in the coffin.

Dan Marsiglia is a Pro Wrestling columnist for Follow him on Twitter or add him to your network on Google. Read more here.

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  • Pete Morris

    I still don’t understand why TNA cut their PPVs.

    If indeed they do 15,000 buys per PPV, at $30 a go and 12 PPVs a year, you’re talking about over $5 million in revenue. They’re a tiny company, so surely that’s a significant amount of money to them?

    Even if they were doing half that, you’d still be talking about $2.7 million in revenue per year from PPVs. Just doesn’t make any sense.

  • Dan Marsiglia

    unfortunately for them, 15,000 wasn’t the norm at all, and many of their shows did as few as 8,000. You also have to consider the costs that go towards the ppv distributors, which can be significant. Evidently the costs were significant enough that they were losing money running ppvs rather than making it. They figure with running fewer ppvs they can limit their costs and perhaps make something resembling a profit.

  • Dan Marsiglia

    you also have to take the perspective of the ppv carriers, who may or may not be thrilled with the idea of using valuable air-time for shows that will only garner 8,000 to 15,000 buys

  • Pantera Steve Chukra

    All i got 2 say to the TNA Fans is TNA SUCKS AND WWE is 100 times better in everthing just look WWE has it’s own network something TNA will never get to that level and it’s just like Jim morrison song this is the end & i hope WWE put a spike in the heart of TNA R.I.P already TNA

    many historians consider the promotion one of the worst in history.
    many historians consider the promotion one of the worst in history.

  • Pantera Steve Chukra

    TO ALL TNA FANS Just face it TNA “SUCK”

  • gmenagain

    Hopefully, they can hang on. It’s a good alternative to WWE. No promotion is perfect, not even WWE. Variety is the spice of life………………..

    • Dan Marsiglia

      I agree completely. Competition is a good thing, especially in pro wrestling. There aren’t many people who are happy that WWE is the only show in town. I just don’t think TNA will ever compete with WWE. They had their chances, more than most promotions get, and they wasted their opportunities.

  • David Holdren

    The only reason that I don’t buy the pay-per-views is money. don’t have it to spend, no matter what company puts them on.