AEW was officially unveiled at the beginning of 2019 through a reveal on Being The Elite. The company’s inaugural event, AEW Double or Nothing, took place in May 2019, followed by the premiere of AEW Dynamite on TNT in October of the same year.

Speaking on Locked on NFL, AEW President Tony Khan shared insights into the genesis of AEW and its connection to Turner’s TV rights bidding. tony also revealed the bid range that TNT-TBS President offered to WWE for SmackDown.

“I started working on the idea for AEW in 2018. The concept to launch AEW came together as I saw an opportunity with a pool of talented wrestlers becoming available in early 2019. In April 2018, I began actively pursuing this vision. One pivotal moment was at a Beverly Hills party on a Friday night where I spoke with my friend, who was then the President of TBS and TNT, Kevin Reilly. I asked him if Turner was considering bidding on wrestling TV rights, specifically for SmackDown. He confirmed they were, with a bid range of $150 to $175 million annually.”

“Given my close industry observation, I anticipated the bidding would exceed $200 million, which it did. I suggested to Kevin that instead of pursuing SmackDown, Turner could launch a new wrestling league on TNT, and eventually TBS, for considerably less investment. That conversation set the stage for what followed,” Khan explained.


Ultimately, WWE’s SmackDown secured lucrative deal with FOX worth $205 million per year, debuting just two days after AEW Dynamite premiered on TNT.

Despite WWE securing a significant deal with FOX, AEW found its niche on TNT and TBS, expanding with programs like AEW Rampage and AEW Collision, while AEW Dynamite transitioned to TBS, solidifying its presence in the wrestling landscape.

How do you think AEW’s strategic decision to launch Dynamite on TNT and eventually transition to TBS has impacted its growth and presence in the wrestling industry compared to WWE’s move to FOX with SmackDown? What are your thoughts on AEW’s programming expansion and its evolution since its inception in 2019? Join the discussion and share your insights!

Tags: Tony Khan
Steve Carrier

Steve is the Founder of RingsideNews. He has been writing about professional wrestling since 1996. He first got into website development at the time and has been focusing on bringing his readers the best professional wrestling news at it's highest quality.

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