Last month it was announced that All Elite Wrestling’s (AEW) first PPV event would be handled in the UK exclusively by ITV Box Office, not it appears that a TV deal is on the horizon.
While not officially announced yet, AEW is expected to debut on ITV 4 in October with a regular weekly live TV show. The deal will not be finalised until TNT makes the decision to air AEW on either Tuesday or Wednesday night.
The UK has been the number 2 market for WWE for many years in terms of live events and merchandise sales and the recent changes in the UK market may spell a shift in the way UK business continues.
WWE are expected to make the move, after more than 30-years on Sky, to BT Sports. A noted risky move due to the fact that BT Sport are in a third of the homes that Sky Sports are in. ITV 4 on the other hand is available in almost every home in Britain free-to-air; the downside of ITV 4 is that it is not a mainstream channel and is unlikely to garner the attention of a wide audience.
This is, however, AEW’s best chance at gaining a greater audience share in this key market than WWE, who will be available in more than 25 million less homes than AEW.
This new landscape will be interesting to watch as it develops, as BT Sport is a relatively new concept in to many peoples homes in the UK and comes at a rather large additional cost to TV viewers. As Dave Meltzer has pointed out in this weeks WON, WWE’s audience in the UK has been dropping massively in recent years and if they become a focal point of BT Sport this may well benefit them in the long run.
If AEW can prove a consistent audience on ITV 4 history has proven that ITV are willing to move shows on to their more prominent channels. It is definitely an interesting time both in the UK, USA and around the world for wrestling fans.