Upstart pro-wrestling outfit Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling is on the verge of drop-kicking Fox Sports Net as it seeks a more lucrative TV tag-team partner, possibly Superstation WGN or Spike TV.
TNA and FSN have yet to agree on an extension of their one-year agreement, which expires May 31. The current deal calls for TNA to lease time on Friday afternoons for its weekly, one-hour series.
An FSN spokesman confirmed the two sides were talking, but would not address specific negotiating points. Executives from TNA, which also offers monthly pay-per-view wrestling events, could not be reached for comment at press time.
As the FSN deal expires, industry sources close to the company said TNA is talking to Superstation WGN and Spike TV about distribution of its weekly series. Unlike the FSN agreement, sources said TNA wants to pin a fee for its programming, which has averaged a 0.2 household rating over the course of its FSN run.
Superstation WGN would not comment on the matter. A Spike TV spokesman would not confirm or deny talks with WGN, saying that the male-targeted network “listens to all different types of pitches from different types of programmers.”
The more likely scenario for TNA would be a WGN deal, according to sources. Spike TV opted against renewing ratings-rich World Wrestling Entertainment series Raw, which will return to USA Network this fall, in favor of investing more in original programming.
Moreover, Spike earlier this month made a major commitment to the combat-sports outfit Ultimate Fighting Championship. The network renewed the UFC’s freshman reality series Ultimate Fighter and will air six live UFC events over the next two years. It will also telecast 26 one-hour episodes of a still untitled series featuring classic footage of UFC events.
For WGN, TNA — whose wrestling shows are less salacious than the WWE’s — could fit well with the network’s focus on courting men 18 to 34. The network this fall plans a pair of original shows targeting the demo: Race Car Driver, a look at the life on and off the track of Champ Car driver Paul Tracy; and Ultimate Arena Paintball, which showcases the 24-team World Paintball League.
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.
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