Tony Khan, the President of AEW, recently spoke to Forbes about how AEW is different from other companies.
“The reason that no other wrestling company in the last few decades has had the foothold we’ve had is, in my opinion, two-fold. And it’s kind of a chicken-or-the-egg thing,” Khan claimed. “We’ve had the great exposure with the big TV contract that gives us great legitimacy and also gives us great penetration, so it’s a very easy show to find, and it feels like a big event every Wednesday. Because we have this partnership with TNT and Warner Media and went with such a powerful media partner, it makes us feel more legitimate.
“Which brings me to my other point — none of the other wrestling companies that have come along in the last 20 years actually felt like a legitimate competitor, a real thing. They felt like fun, niche, wrestling products, and if you’re a big wrestling fan, they’re things that you might watch but they’re not going to take households by storm. They weren’t things that were going to win the night on TV. They might, on their night, get some wrestling fans to watch their show, but there hasn’t been anything in wrestling that’s come along in two decades that would be competitive in terms of a second national wrestling company. Where it could stand to be the number one show on cable in its night or even a top-five show. There’s nothing that’s been like that.”
Khan also adds that ratings for TV shows have actually become steadier over the last century.
“People compare numbers from the past, and say, you know, 15 years ago, other wrestling companies that came along as startups were doing big TV audiences. And what I would say to that is, the TV audience was very different as a whole back then,” Khan said. “There was more viewership, and in terms of demo ratings, there really hasn’t been anything like what we’re doing in terms of competing head-to-head with WWE, week-to-week in the cable ratings, in two decades.”