Would you file for a trademark if there weren't any plans to launch a Tuesday show? Would you then tease an early January announcement only to provide nothing? I have a feeling that something more fixed is in the works. And given that Cody said that to Australians, I'd have to imagine that it is international. Otherwise you'd just say "we've got plans in the US, but hope to expand." My thought is that it would have to be streaming, if this is the case.
Starting at the top, would Netflix be interested in a wrestling program? They have GLOW and have done some cross-promotion with WWE. Maybe they are interested in either a weekly show or a limited series? Disney does have its OTT coming out late 2019, which will have all the classic Disney films, Pixar movies, Star Wars movies and Marvel movies, as well as original content. Some have called it a "Netflix killer," which sounds dramatic, but in the world where you want to streamline your streaming services, things are going to get "tighter." I eventually expect WWE Network to end up as part of a larger service (probably the Disney one), with Raw and SmackDown maybe eventually making the switch to it in a few years once television recedes even further.
It's a long shot, but if I were part of this AEW thing, I'd be going to Netflix about getting maybe 12 weeks limited run in order to get your foot into many different markets and then use that limited run as leverage in securing a cable deal with a TNT or TBS -- hopefully something with prestige. You can do the limited run and segue that into the weekly show, and then still run one or two big PPV-level events a year and maybe do another limited series run with Netflix if the first is successful. The Netflix deal is probably not where your money comes from (and this might be where the Khans need to step in in order to leverage something, and maybe even buy the space), but hopefully the cable deal can be more lucrative to the bottom-line.
It's going to be an outrageously hard road to hoe to be a strong #2 today. This reminds me of something JJ Dillon said in an interview when he was asked how do you create a successful wrestling company, and he said with some cynicism:
"First thing I would say is I hope you have a lot of money, and when I say a lot of money I'm talking Ted Turner money, deep, deep pockets. Now if you had the money, it's a talent driven business. You need talent and when the territories went out there were guys that making a living in the business that you could cherry pick, main events guys from territories and you could put a nucleus of top guys together and then filled it out with guys underneath who then could get the rub, and if they had the potential, could eventually make stars out of them to give you that talent roster, because it is a talent-driven business It isn't that easy now."
"If you have money, and you have the talent-- but I'd stop right here and ask, where's your talent pool? Where are you going to get them from? .... then you got to get creative people to know what to do with them. Because you can't have meaningful issues which is what sells tickets, until you have characters who are meaningful. You need a creative mind to know what to do with it. Then you have to have exposure, you need television and you can't have television that's on 3 am and expect to run live events and make it profitable......"
".....now if you take on a cable network, you count the number of stations that you can choose from in the 100s. How are you going to have a new program let the world know that you're out there and that this is where to find you and to build a loyal following? I don't know where that is. It's certainly not wrestling magazines. Ads, major newspapers, I mean wrestling fans don't read ads-- I don't hate that word out there. So I could think of all the reasons why if you have money and say 'I love the wrestling business, I want to get in it', and I'd say give me a dollar, and now I'll send you a lot of money and tell you... don't get in the wrestling business. Put your money somewhere else, do something else. It's the greatest business in the world, but it's the most challenging business and I don't know that it's possible at this day & time for a new player to come in and be successful."
Of course, he didn't mention the use of internet streams, but still in any case that would be like a whole lot of other promotions trying to do the same things with internet streams and internet based networks. That's not going to cut it. People are looking for in this case, specifically an alternative to something like RAW on the USA network. People are hoping for competition here, REAL competition. But that is going to be extremely hard to do. next to impossible, even. WWE are so huge now, they could literally just put a guppy in a fish bowl in the middle of the ring for 3 hrs and they still wouldn't notice any competition even if it was out there.
This is all true...to an extent.
You need a lot of money. The Khans have a lot of money. Now Tony Khan is only
a millionaire. But Shahid Khan is worth three Vince McMahons. He's got his fingers in lots of different pies and just tried to buy Wembley Stadium for $800 million USD. You are probably aware of that, but that's enough to buy 80 WrestleMania stages. A WWE show cost about $800,000 overhead to put on every week. The Khans actually do have the money to create a completely sustainable pool for overhead without factoring in revenue, licencing, merchandise, TV rights, etc. Worst case scenario, the Khans could put on a show that nobody watches and keep it going as a vanity project for as long as they like. Now, they probably aren't interested in doing that, haha, but it's just possible.
The talent pool is out there, and even ones signed to freshly minted five-year WWE deals will no doubt be looking to use alternatives to leverage, at least, better WWE deals. Right now, you really only have a few places to work where money is going to be great. Adding one to that means that there is at least a bartering process. Having another place to go is great for talent, creatively.
It sounds like creative people are going to be involved in this. Jim Ross' name has been floated. Chris Jericho might only be talent, but he's got some ideas. There are plenty of great wrestling minds out there that are not employed by WWE. There are many that have burnt their bridges because they have sued the company, haha. Would a Raven, for example, working with this promotion be so out of the question? A DDP? A Jake Roberts...permitting he's in a good spot? A Scott Hall? If hell melts over, a Jim Cornette? Dutch Mantell? Lance Storm?
You absolutely don't want a dodgy cable network, but that game changed the moment Vince McMahon got offered $100 million per hour/per year he generates for TV. And that changes if you are only asking for $50 million per hour, or $25 million per hour. Weekly entertainment is becoming more vital for cable companies; not less. This TV rights thing is very new, and it provides a good chance for others to undercut Vince and do a similar thing for a lot less money. And this AEW thing might not be the only people looking to put this into practice. Obviously you're going to need promotion, but there's this idea that Vince has things locked down, which I think is archaic thinking, in the sense that I agree that was the perception, say, circa 2001. Now content provision has changed and Vince, in many ways, might have priced himself out of some people looking to expand's markets. Promotion and securing advertisers is a big thing, but the Khans likely come with ins to that (Tony owns a sports media promotion and analytics company), and getting yourself out there to that disenfranchised fan base is a good start.
It really does come down to having talent, having money and being accessible with the perception of being viable. They seem to be the first people in a long time to manage the viability thing before they get to the TV negotiation stage.