Is Destination America Trying To Kill TNA With Ring Of Honor?

So this just happened.

PRESS RELEASE
DESTINATION AMERICA BRINGS MORE ACTION TO THE RING
ACQUIRING THE RIGHTS TO RING OF HONOR’S
WEEKLY TELEVISION PROGRAMMING
(Silver Spring, Md.) –Destination America announced today that it has signed a national broadcast deal with professional wrestling league RING OF HONOR, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., bringing one of the most respected wrestling organizations to the only network dedicated to all-American entertainment. Destination America is now the one-two-punch to professional wrestling, adding RING OF HONOR (ROH) to its line-up after launching IMPACT WRESTLING in early 2015. RING OF HONOR has been delivering top wrestling matches for ten years with captivating hard-hitting stars such as Jay & Mark Briscoe, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, The Young Bucks, Maria Kanellis, Adam Cole and Jay Lethal. Destination America will pack on the action beginning Wednesday June 3 with the series premiere of RING OF HONOR at 8/7c leading into brand new premieres of IMPACT WRESTLING at 9/8c.
“With the electric and intense matches that RING OF HONOR provides, Destination America is the network for fans to get an entire evening of jaw-dropping entertainment on Wednesday nights,” said Marc Etkind, general manager of Destination America. “RING OF HONOR showcases tenacity, athleticism and passion and it serves as the place where America’s favorite wrestling stars are born.”
“We are very excited to be partnering with Destination America for the broader distribution of the ROH programming,” commented Joe Koff, Chief Operating Officer – Ring of Honor Wrestling. “ROH will now reach an additional 57 million households including those in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and other large cities where Ring of Honor is not currently airing. ROH has a loyal fan base and is one of the fastest growing major wrestling franchises in the country. With this great partnership with Destination America, we can continue to expand our footprint and reach while producing entertaining, original content and continuing to provide wrestling fans some of the best wrestling content available.”
RING OF HONOR will premiere on Wednesday, June 3 leading into IMPACT WRESTLING, making Destination America the home for wrestling every Wednesday evening. The first match will feature the Briscoe Brothers, Mark and Jay, as they face off with the House of Truth in the main event. Also catch athletes of New Japan Pro Wrestling battle it out with the RING OF HONOR stars and follow former NFL lineman Moose compete against BJ Whitmer.
Since launching in 2012, Destination America has become one of cable’s top fastest-growing networks, and continues to earn telecast ratings records among key series. In 2015 to date, Destination America has acquired over 50 million unique viewers. With top series that explore unique American cultures and ways of life – including Paranormal Survivor, Hillbilly Blood, Buying the Bayou, and BBQ Pitmasters – Destination America’s programming spans the nation from Alaska, Hawaii and Colorado to Louisiana, West Virginia and communities in between. To find Destination America, go to destinationamerica.com/watchda.

To say the least, this is…unexpected.

For a little while now, stories have been making the rounds about problems between TNA and Destination America. There were reports that DA was upset because although the numbers TNA has been drawing are decent, it’s been hard to make good advertising money. this is hardly a problem unique to TNA, though. Even WWE, which is well known and enormous, has trouble commanding top dollar for the stations it runs on. It’s an issue that goes back many years and should be no secret to anyone who’s job description includes words like run a television network. Remember when Raw used to get bumped for the Westminster Dog Show? I don’t have exact numbers in front of me, but trust me, that didn’t happen because dog shows secretly do monster ratings. It happened because in the eyes of corporations, smart rich people who spend lots of money watch dog shows. Wrestling fans, by contrast, are broke and stupid, so spending a lot of money to reach them doesn’t make sense even though millions upon millions of them watch TV. Basically, if you’ve ever wondered why so many wrestling shows are brought to you by pop, pizza rolls and pain pills, that’s the short answer. It’s all about reputation (wrestling has a bad one) and return on investment, which brings us back to Destination America.

Word was that DA didn’t feel as though they were getting out of the arrangement what they were putting in, and the two shows they picked up from TNA that weren’t Impact getting axed in the last few weeks would seem to bear that out. Then, last week, news broke that DA had an out clause in their contract with TNA that they could use in September and they planned on doing so. This struck me as odd since not long before that a move from Friday nights to Wednesdays was announced for Impact, and why would you give a better timeslot to a show you plan on killing instead of just keeping things as they are and letting it die? In the next few days a bunch of confusion and bickering ensued, complete with TNA threatening to sue news reporters for news reporting because TNA likes to do stupid things. there was much sound and fury, but the one thing there wasn’t was any public comment from Destination America or TNA that could have put this whole thing to rest or at least explained where things stood if the situation was still evolving. I totally understand why there wasn’t, by the way. A content provider and a growing television network possibly getting into a public pissing contest over a wrestling show doesn’t make either side look good. But on the other hand it might have been a good idea to put out some sort of statement, even if it’s just that programming strategies are always being evaluated and that no decisions are final until we make them public. It wouldn’t have meant that TNA wasn’t in trouble, but it could have put an end to some of the speculation. But instead we suddenly have another wrestling company acting as a lead-in for TNA, which is surely going to ramp the rumour and speculation up even higher.

As far as I’m concerned, there are two ways we can look at this. Either it’s good for TNA because why would a network that’s looking to get rid of it’s brand new wrestling programming go out and get more, or it’s a bad sign because perhaps while the network wants wrestling, ROH comes cheaper and therefore will be easier to make a profit on than TNA has turned out to be. I don’t know exactly where I stand, though one of my feet keeps shuffling into option B territory.

Let’s face it. Three hours of wrestling is a lot to ask people to watch every week even when they’re filled with good. Since Raw which has a problem with being good a lot went to 3 hours, the ratings have suffered to the point where hour 3, which should logically be the one everyone wants to watch because it’s where the main event matches and angles live, has pretty much always dropped. This problem persists even when Raw is good. So intentionally or not, DA is probably going to kill the rating for something. and if we go by the Raw pattern, what tanks is going to be the second hour of TNA, which will bring the whole Impact number down. And if the number goes down, DA can spin an eventual cancellation as TNA not performing up to expectations. I’m not sure if DA is that smart or thinking that far ahead, but we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t at least entertain the possibility of it dawning on them one day down the road when they’re looking at some numbers.

Hopefully this works out for everyone. I want ROH to grow and be seen by more people and I want TNA to survive and thrive for years to come, especially now that it’s not horrible anymore. And even though we don’t get Destination America here in Canada, I want nothing but the best for them too. After all, they suddenly hold more of the fate of televised wrestling in their hands than seemed possible even just yesterday.

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1 comment
  1. I noticed somebody find this post wondering if TNA would sue Destination America, so I might as well answer that as best I can.

    Unless there are terms in their deal that nobody knows about, there are no grounds for TNA to sue DA. I’m sure they aren’t thrilled that ROH has joined them on the network, but unless TNA had exclusivity written into the contract there’s nothing they can do about it. And since the folks at DA would have to be beyond moronic to agree to terms with Ring of Honor while under an exclusive deal with TNA, I suspect they don’t have that. The fact that they don’t says a lot to me about the state of TNA and the negotiating leverage they didn’t have. That might be even more worrying long term than DA not renewing them in September. I mean really, if you can’t get an exclusive deal out of a network nobody’s ever heard of and that network drops you, who’s picking you up and paying any of the freight after that?

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