Josh Boutwell looks at TNA Impact Wrestling heading to POP TV in 2016

TNA moves forward in 2016 with POP TV
November 20, 2015
By: Josh Boutwell of Wrestleview.com

On Thursday, TNA Wrestling officially announced a new TV deal signing with American television network Pop TV, formerly the TV Guide Network, starting in January. This is off the heels of signing with Destination America back in January of this year after spending almost a decade on Spike TV and a year with Fox Sports Net before that. Pop TV is owned by CBS/Lionsgate and is available in more than 75 million homes across the country, almost 30 million more homes than Destination America. It remains a relatively young network that does not have much original programming. The new TV deal brings what was possibly TNA’s worst year ever to a close with a glimmer of hope for the future.

The downfall of TNA on Destination America in 2015

TNA took several steps back in 2015 when leaving Spike TV for Destination America, which had a little more than half the amount of possible viewers as Spike. The deal between the two sides quickly seemed to sour as TNA’s viewership fell to less than half of the more than one million viewers they averaged on Spike. Much of that was Destination America’s lack of viewers overall as most cable and satellite packages did not carry the network on basic packages. Destination America also moved Impact from Friday to Wednesday.

Destination America also seemed to undermine TNA by signing Ring of Honor to a TV deal, though they all but abandoned ROH after it was pretty clear the promotion wasn’t going to pull in the same ratings as TNA.

TNA’s 2015 also saw less than 20 total live events outside of TV tapings in Orlando, which meant their touring schedule became almost nonexistent leading to some of the worst attendance in the company’s history in one of their only house show tour of the year in September. That also led to TNA canceling a second tour that was scheduled for October and November.

Many will look at the signing to Pop TV as another step back for the promotion as Pop is still a very little known television network with a ton of original programming and even less popular programming. The Daytime Emmy’s this year pulled in Pop’s highest ratings ever and still drew less than a million viewers and its most well-known original program is the show “Schitt’s Creek” (which I had never heard of). There is no question that being on a network that is more highly accessible – considering a majority of basic cable and satellite packages has it on their lineup – cannot be seen as a bad thing.

Another interesting aspect of this whole situation are the rumors that have already began about not only the network, but what TNA will do going forward. One rumor started even before the TV announcement as Bill Goldberg conducted an interview earlier this week and said that TNA had contacted him recently about appearing for the promotion and he hadn’t ruled it out.

Now, signing a star like Goldberg, in my opinion, is the exact opposite of what TNA should be doing. Signing guys that they think were going to get them more exposure, but were really just over the hill stars with very little drawing power in the present, ended up being the start of TNA’s downfall on Spike in 2010 (in my opinion). Signing Goldberg would not do much for TNA’s ratings in 2016 other than bring in a few thousand nostalgic viewers and be a drain on the promotion money wise.

TNA needs to concentrate on keeping the few draws they have – guys like Jeff Hardy and Kurt Angle – and keep together a core group of their great in-ring talent (Lashley, Roode, The Wolves, X-Division stars, Galloway, etc.) and bring in fresher young talent and possibly one more big name if they can find it. The only name out there I think that could even remotely make an impact (no pun intended) would be that of Rey Misterio Jr., but with him likely showing up in Lucha Underground this year it is very unlikely.

TNA on POP TV

If TNA is going to regrow their viewership to what it was on Spike and hopefully for them even more, then they have to be patient and concentrate on delivering a good product. The company has to invest more time into local promotion and advertising when it comes to live events and they MUST up their touring in 2016. They don’t have to try to do 100 live events next year, but they need to get closer to 50 and the PPV business needs to pick back up for them. They might need to revamp the PPV business though by either doing live iPPV’s online or working with CBS to air live PPV-like specials on Showtime, which could be a nice thing for both companies or even doing a combination of both.

TNA must build things back up. If they just try to do a bunch of hot shotting by throwing some money at guys that USED to be stars in the business and doing silly/ridiculous angles for nothing more than Vince Russo-like shock factor, then they will just continue to fall until there are no more TV deals to be had.

2016 is unquestionably a make or break year for TNA Wrestling and it should be an interesting one regardless of what happens.