TNA’s future – it’s a subject we’ve steered clear of here on this website, particularly the whole “dumpster fire” of legal issues they’ve recently been battling.
On Tuesday morning, TNA took another blow – at least on the surface – with the news that Challenge TV in the UK was no longer going to carry the product after the end of the year. Since 2011, TNA had been a part of Challenge, who took on the contract following the closure of TNA’s prior UK partner, Bravo. Whilst Challenge credited TNA for being a part of the channel’s history, TNA took a different tact, hinting that they made the call claiming that fans were unhappy at waiting at days for the show to air after it’d been on in the US. Apparently spoilers for shows taped weeks in advance were a major issue, as TNA said:
“We are proud to have had such a great relationship with Challenge, and appreciate how the channel brought Impact Wrestling to our avid viewers through the years. In today’s world, spoilers are inevitable. We’ve heard from the amazing fans in the UK and know you do not want to wait 3-5 days to watch the program after it airs in the US.
Our goal is to broadcast Impact Wrestling in the UK as close to the US premiere as possible. We look forward to announcing that opportunity soon, so stay tuned. In the meantime, we hope you continue to watch Impact Wrestling on Challenge, Sunday nights at 9pm, as well as Xplosion and pay-per-views and follow us on social media. Thank you.”
Now, earlier in the TNA “doom watch”, there had been rumblings over the length and security of their UK TV deal. Granted, TNA was one of Challenge’s highest-rated shows, at least with the most recent data available, which shows the October 20th episode (that aired on Sunday October 23) pulling in 168,000 viewers – around 15,000 viewers more than the station’s number-two show, a replay of quiz show “The Chase”. That rating seemed to be an exception, rather than the rule, as Impact barely troubled the channel’s top ten ratings lists, indicating that its regular audience was well under 100,000 viewers.
Since April of this year, Impact struggled to maintain a top-ten placing in Challenges ratings – a far cry to five years ago, when the show was peaking at almost 300,000 viewers (drawing 297,000 in August 2011, with similarly-high ratings during the weeks when the shows from TNA’s UK tours aired). Of course, five years ago, TNA was on something of a hot streak with big names in the promotion… and as financial issues bit, their UK ratings have taken the same turn as in the US. Just without the constant channel surfing. Until now.
The lack of an announced tour of the UK in 2017 was somewhat telling for TNA, who until this point had considered the UK as one of it’s hotter markets. TNA’s statement seems to indicate that they have a new TV partner in the works – whether that’s just a face-saving measure or whether TNA really has been shopping around and is on the verge of a deal, only time will tell. Even if they do, it’s unlikely that their new deal will bring them the same income or exposure that Challenge did, especially against a backdrop of falling ratings.
With this latest blow coming on the back of yet more legal wranglings with Billy Corgan, it’s getting harder and harder to see a prosperous future in any term for TNA. Hopefully, I’m proven wrong…