Tony Khan recently appeared as a guest on Busted Open Radio for an in-depth interview covering all things pro wrestling.
During the discussion, the AEW President spoke about the success of the ratings for the Thanksgiving edition of Dynamite, the DVR numbers for the company, fans getting caught up in viewership information, avoiding the mistakes WCW made in 1997 and more.
Featured below are some of the highlights from the interview.
On AEW being an attractive product to younger viewers and the success of the ratings for the Thanksgiving edition of Dynamite: “Like we have a great audience right now. People get so caught up in like micro trends. I’ll give you a great example. Like there are a lot of people out on Black Friday and also on Thanksgiving Eve. And so for Dynamite in particular, I was just getting DVR numbers back today. And the Thanksgiving Eve episode, you know, a lot of people are out that day. And we did a great audience. It was by far the biggest audience we’ve done on Thanksgiving Eve. It’s our third show on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and it was our biggest live audience yet. And it wasn’t quite as big as some of the other audiences we’ve had recently because I think of the holiday. And then I got the DVR numbers back this morning and it was the most watched episode when you factor in the DVR in a long time. So with that plus seven lift, the Thanksgiving Eve episode was a huge, huge, huge rating success. And, you know, a lot of times people get so caught up in these trends, the show this week, finished third on cable and that’s massive for us. Anytime we finished that high, everybody’s very happy with it and our share was really, really good for the night. And it was a really strong number put up this week. And the fact is, there are tons of people growing up on AEW. Anytime I come on with you guys like all the aggregation sites will pick it up and pull the quotes out and look for anything juicy to say and often they’ll intentionally take the stuff out of context. They probably won’t use this quote because it talks about what they do. So I’m guessing this won’t make it onto the aggregation sites because it’s actually a very process oriented quote describing the process of running a wrestling aggregation site and taking people out of context, which is an art that they’ve mastered.
So in this case, I think the fans, there’s a lot of people that have grown up with GCW, as maybe their third alternative. There’s a lot of people that have grown up with AEW. And we have taken a place in the wrestling universe that didn’t exist for a long time. There wasn’t a viable second national company with all due respect to the other companies that have been out there or were out there trying to fill that space. For a long time, there hasn’t been a viable national alternative. Nothing that’s ever gotten the kind of penetration we have, you know, on great channels like TNT and TBS, since the death of WCW, over 20 years ago. So the fans have been waiting over 20 years ago, for a time like this and now, Dynamite has been on over two years, we’re going on year three, as a company with AEW. There’s a lot of people that watch AEW and instead of getting caught up on whether the number goes up by .02 or .03 each week, I think I don’t want to lose the forest for the trees. We have a lot of fans, and they’re pro wrestling fans.”
On believing AEW can avoid the mistakes that WCW made in 1997 while they were competing with WWE: “One of the mistakes WCW did is they had a great audience with pro wrestling, on television, and then around 97, the WWF I guess around maybe late 96, the WWF started doing stuff that was just as good or better. And they had great main event talent, but they weren’t the biggest names yet and they built those people up. And you saw slowly but surely, the fans responded to what was great pro wrestling, and then WCW instead of responding to that by continuing on doing more great pro wrestling, maintaining the great audience and base that they had, they got away from it. And I don’t want to do that. So one thing you can always count on with AEW is if you tune in to Dynamite on a Wednesday, or tonight, if you tune into Rampage on a Friday like tonight on TNT, you’re going to see a lot of great wrestling, I promise, I’m not going to make it a whole show with talking. The only show I can ever think of where a large percentage of the total volume of the show was taken up with the talking is the First Dance, which was a very, very special case. And I don’t think anybody there that night or anybody that watched it was upset that one time a few months ago when a lot of the show was [talking] but for the most part I would say literally 99% of the time on our TV shows, you can count on a lot of great wrestling. And for me as a fan that would always be enough to get me to support a company because if I knew that a few times a week, I could tune in and I was gonna see great wrestling matches and wrestlers I cared about that means so much. And for a long time people didn’t have that, and at least not consistently. And I think there have been times in the last two decades where WWE did offer that consistently and has had good runs of doing that but when AEW started there was a reason why the fans [clamored for it] and there’s a reason why I think we’ve had the success we’ve had and it’s because of the fans and it’s because there’s a huge appetite in this country for pro wrestling and great pro wrestling matches every week.”
On fans getting caught up in the ratings and the DVR numbers for AEW: “Ratings are a huge piece of it and it is a big deal when they come out the next day but you know, there is some context that goes into it. You really need to watch the next week as the DVR numbers come in. So for the Thanksgiving Eve episode, the DVR numbers tell a really interesting story that there was a ton of delayed viewing but people did catch up on the show and they really wanted to see it and it ended up being our most watched show of the month…”
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