Reports came in on Sunday night that Spike TV told TNA Wrestling president Dixie Carter late last week that the network would not be renewing its contract for TNA’s flagship show, Impact Wrestling, when it expires this October. While the current TV deal expires in October, it’s unclear when TNA will stop airing on Spike and if the network has the option to cease production of the program prior to its expiration date.
TNA is scheduled to run its next set of television tapings from the Manhattan Center in New York City from August 5-7.
The move leaves TNA without a network partner in an era where its television is by far its primary source of income; TNA cut its pay-per-view offerings last year and have scaled back immensely on live events. According to a TMZ report, there is no bad blood between TNA and Spike. In fact, Spike wanted to give TNA as much time as possible to find a new television partner. The Wrestling Observer reported that Carter told TNA staff on Friday that TNA was leaving Spike on its own for “lack of promotion.”
So what’s next for TNA? Their options are slim, and it’s doubtful, if they find a new network, it will have the audience of clearance that Viacom-owned Spike has.
One thing is for certain, there will be more shoes to drop. Here are a few potential next steps:
1) Viacom buys TNA or Ring of Honor
Spike TV is getting out of the TNA business, but I’m not sure they want to get out of the pro wrestling business. TNA was providing Spike with 52 weeks of original programming per year and it was drawing over one million viewers each week, which is a good number for Spike TV, especially in this demographic.
TNA has never been close to drawing WWE numbers, but for what it was, on the network it was on, it was doing quite well, especially considering slashes in budgets resulting in more canned shows and a slim talent roster.
ROH is owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, but if Viacom wanted to stay in the pro wrestling business, and control the entire product, buying ROH or even starting their own promotion from scratch isn’t out of the question. What would be interesting is if Viacom backed out of the deal in an effort to acquire TNA. The company is useless without television, and Viacom could position itself to buy the company, simply by taking the television distribution off the table. It drives the price down.
It’s similar to what happened with Jim Crockett and WCW. The result there was Turner Broadcasting bought Jim Crockett Promotions and spun it into WCW.
2) TNA ceases operation
Unfortunately, this is a very real possibility. Without television, TNA is dead. Period.
If Spike was floating money into the promotion to help keep it afloat in recent months – it at least helped in the acquisition of Rampage Jackson, King Mo, and presumably Bobby Lashley – it means that the company is in some financial peril.
3) TNA finds a new television deal
There are several factors that could make you believe this is easier said than done.
The biggest is WWE’s television renewal with NBC Universal. That deal was signed at an increase in fees for WWE, but it wasn’t nearly the increase WWE wanted or many pundits predicted. That means most networks aren’t high on the pro wrestling genre as a television product, and if WWE didn’t hit its goal, TNA is going to have a heck of a hard time hitting theirs.
When WCW folded, it was because Turner Broadcast pulled television distribution off the table when it was dealing with Fusient, a media group headed by Eric Bischoff. Without television, WCW was worthless. Vince McMahon paid about $2 million for the tape library, and that was it.
What’s TNA worth? It doesn’t have near the history of WCW and the NWA. Without television, TNA might not be worth more than a few hundred thousand dollars. It’s worth the contents of its warehouse, and that’s about it. No matter how you slice it, unless TNA is bought or put on a new network, this is bad news for the pro wrestling industry. It means less jobs, less spots on television, and less places for wrestlers to making a living.
There’s still plenty of paths this story could take, but for the time being, TNA is in the fight of its life.