TBS Looks To Pin Down Wrestling Viewers with ‘AEW: Dynamite’

CM Punk vs Lee Moriarity on AEW: Dynamite
CM Punk took on Lee Moriarty on a recent edition of 'AEW: Dynamite.' (Image credit: AEW/WarnerMedia)

TBS officially steps into the pro wrestling arena tonight (January 5) as it takes over distribution of TNT‘s weekly AEW: Dynamite series.

The series, which debuted on TNT in 2019, is moving to TBS to make room for additional TNT National Hockey League telecasts. The network began airing NHL games in October as part of a new seven-year rights deal with the league. 

AEW: Dynamite reached more than 37 million viewers in 2021, and averaged 975,000 total viewers in its final airing on TNT on December 29, Nielsen reported. 

While TBS has aired Major League Baseball games and other live sports events in the past, it has been many years since it prominently featured pro wrestling as part of its schedule. TNT, TBS and truTV associate general manager and SVP of programming and operations Sam Linsky says he‘s confident wrestling fans will follow AEW: Dynamite to TBS. He added TBS is not looking to make any editorial changes to the two-hour AEW: Dynamite telecasts.

“Wrestling fans are about as passionate and smart as you get … I think they’ll find it [on TBS],” Linsky said. 

AEW may also attract new viewers who watch TBS’s more comedy-themed content. Linsky said the lead-in for AEW: Dynamite on TBS is The Big Bang Theory, which attracts a different audience demographic than the viewers who watched the action movies that served as the show’s lead-in on TNT. 

“The way you expand a wrestling brand or any sort of sports or brand is by going outside of the normal fans,” Linksy said. “If let's say half of [Big Bang Theory] viewers stay and watch AEW: Dynamite and fall in love with the great characters, the great action and the great fun of the show, you're expanding the audience while still delivering the product to the hardcore fans.” 

The AEW wrestling franchise will still have a presence on TNT through its weekly Friday series AEW: Rampage. Linsky added TNT will air quarterly specials throughout the year beginning January 8 with Battle of the Belts. AEW will also offer several pay-per-view events in 2022.

“The more you can expose different audiences to this product, the more opportunity you have for people to come in and find it,” Linsky said. “I’m glad to have it in as many places as possible.” ■ 

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.