Eric Bischoff weighs in on what he thinks may happen now that Discovery has merged with Warner Bros. and if Tony Khan should be worried.
Recently the merger between the two entertainment giants, Warner Bros. and Discovery, went through and it will shake up the entertainment world. Most people in the nerd world are looking at what it will mean for the DC Universe, but the merger has implications on other nerd fandoms.
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Pro wrestling and most specifically AEW as it airs on TNT and TBS may be affected by the merger.
Eric Bischoff Explains It All
Eric Bischoff addressed the possible future effects on AEW and what Tony Khan should be doing right now on his podcast, 83 Weeks exclusive Strictly Business podcast.
“If I were in Tony Khan’s shoes right now, I wouldn’t be worried about anything because there’s no sense worrying about things that you have no control over,” Bischoff said. “I’ll talk about the things AEW does have control over in a minute, but here’s what they don’t have any control over. No one knows, myself included and I would venture to guess 99.9 percent of people that comment on this stuff, none of us know what the strategy is for Discovery.
We don’t know what Zaslav’s plans are. I worked with David Zaslav (CEO of Discovery Communication) at Discovery, not directly but indirectly, I worked with Discovery while Zaslav was in charge so indirectly. Nobody knows what the plan is for TBS and TNT, just like nobody knows at CNN what the plan is for CNN.” H/T To Wrestling Inc. For Transcription
AEW Is Even Copying The AOL-Time Warner Merger
This is a very uncertain time for everyone involved and the people and companies within the merger. Khan does have no control or any idea what will happen next. All he can do is make sure AEW continues to be profitable and successful just like he has been doing.
The merger brings up memories of the buyout of WCW following the AOL-Time Warner merger in the early 2000s which directly led to the death of WCW. Eric Bischoff was at WCW at the time of that merger and saw its effects firsthand. This makes him the best person to talk about mergers and the effects they may have on the wrestling business.
However, Eric Bischoff brings up how AEW is in a much different situation than WCW was in at the time.
“There’s a lot of chatter, a lot of strong opinions and I see people trying to compare where WCW was during the AOL-Time Warner merger and where they perceive [AEW], because they’re basically ignorant, I don’t mean that as a shot, they just don’t have the knowledge or information,” Eric Bischoff said. “The true definition of ignorance.”
“They’re making statements and observations and have opinions that are based on a complete vacuum of any understanding of what’s really going on. WCW was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Turner as part of the AOL-Time Warner merger. AEW is an independent production company, much like I was when I had my own production company with Jason Hervy.”
Eric Bischoff added, “We create ideas, we develop them, we’d sell them and we’d produce them for a fee. That’s exactly what AEW is, no more, no less. They’re not a wholly-owned subsidiary which is probably a good thing because you’re under less scrutiny at that point.”
AEW Is In A Much Better Position Than WCW Was
Eric Bischoff makes a good point as to the differences between WCW and AEW’s position. His point is that WCW was owned by Turner so when they merged WCW was part of the deal. However, AEW is its own entity and broadcasts on TNT and TBS. This means they could just move to a different network.
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Moving to a new network is nonetheless a big deal. AEW has made their home on TNT and TBS and they are still not totally on stable ground. Changing networks could mean losing viewers because casual viewers may not know where and when they moved to.
However, it is possible to move and keep their viewers because WWE has done it a bunch of times, but it isn’t easy I’m sure.
Eric Bischoff restated the future direction and implications are solely dependent on what CEO of Discovery Communication David Zaslav wants to do. It comes down to Zaslav and whether he thinks AEW is profitable and worth continuing to work with.
“With AEW, it’s going to come down to two things,” Eric Bischoff said. “The creative direction of David Zaslav for TBS and TNT and the amount of revenue that that licensed property is producing for TBS on that beachfront property. If you’ve got somebody coming in from Discovery ad sales, because that’s what’s going to happen, ad sales makes more of the decision on content than just about anybody.
I can’t tell you how many times I pitched really great shows with super great talent attached to it, everybody in the room loved it including the head of the network but the head of the network was going to wait until he got an opinion from ad sales before we got a green light. That’s the bottom line.
Since none of us know that, we’re going to wait and see as well as we’ll wait and see for the creative strategy for Zaslav and company.”
This merger could mean absolutely nothing for AEW, it could mean big and bad changes are coming or it could mean a lot of support for AEW. This could mean AEW will be getting the support to really come after WWE and AEW could actually be a promotion WWE needs to actually fear. WWE has stated they don’t see AEW as a rival, but that may change with this merger.
What do you think will happen to AEW after this merger? Do you agree with Eric Bischoff? Leave a comment below and over on social media to let us know what the one thing is that AEW needs to go head-to-head with WWE.
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Sources: 83 Weeks exclusive Strictly Business podcast, Wrestling Inc.