PPV Executives Sued Over Weekly Wrestling Series

A new pay-per-view wrestling organization is suing two industry veterans for allegedly breaching their contracts regarding the marketing of its weekly wrestling series.

J. Sports & Entertainment LLC, which produces the NWA-TNA PPV series, filed suit in Davidson County (Tenn.) Circuit Court last Tuesday, alleging that former PPV-programming executive Jay Hassman and veteran industry marketer Len Sabal defrauded the company by misrepresenting industry distribution penetration and the performance of NWA-TNA shows.

The suit alleges that Hassman and Sabal knowingly "boosted both event-distribution and PPV-performance numbers and failed to provide agreed-upon system-marketing initiatives in an effort to 'sabotage the plaintiff's venture ? by causing the plaintiff to devote additional capital following the first show in reliance upon false data."

J. Sports, headed by wrestling personalities Jeff and Jerry Jarrett, claims it invested $250,000 per show based on Hassman's early projections of 74,000 buys for the initial NWA-TNA event on June 19. But the event, which retailed for $19.95, performed well below that figure.

The suit also alleges that Hassman breached his agreement by not disclosing his affiliation with Team Services, which handles marketing for competitor World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.

According to the suit, in signing the J. Sports marketing deal Hassman said he did not have any connection with WWE or any other entity that would be in conflict with the NWA venture.

Hassman could not be reached for comment, but Sabal termed the lawsuit "nonsense," and said the company could not fulfill its financial obligations to the series or to In Demand LLC, which is offering the weekly PPV-wrestling series exclusively to cable operators.

"The Jarretts proved unable or unwilling to fund two small letters of credit as called for the In Demand agreement," Sabal said. "Instead, they hastily sought outside investors, to whom I'm certain, Jerry Jarrett used his mantra of '150,000 buys', despite all efforts by myself and In Demand to keep him focused on a realistic 25,000-buy minimum, 50,000-buy target from which to build upon."

Ironically, industry sources said the first six shows have generated between 20,000 to 40,000 buys.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.