(Part 2) Brad Schwartz, the president of Pop, discusses further the acquisition of TNA Impact Wrestling to Pop, formerly TV Guide Channel.
What will determine if TNA Impact Wrestling is successful on Pop?
“The easy answer is ratings,” Schwartz said, “but for an emerging network like ourselves that’s not the be-all, end-all.”
He noted: “There’s a business side to this. Just 12 months ago, when this show was on Spike, it averaged 1.3-million viewers every week for the entire year. That’s two hours a week for 52 weeks it averaged 1.3-million viewers a week. That’s not spin. That’s Nielsen.”
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Nielsen Media Research, home of the Nielsen ratings, is the official measuring stick for the amount of viewers watching a television program.
Schwartz continued: “We’re in almost as many homes as Spike.”
In the United States, Spike’s reach is approximately 90 million homes.
Pop is about 80 million.
Schwartz added: “So you would love to see us build it back up to those levels, and if you talk to [TNA President] Dixie [Carter], surpass those levels. Is that gonna happen in the first month? Is that gonna happen in the first quarter? Is that gonna happen in the second quarter?
“I think it will be a little bit of a build as we earn back the fans who might not have been able to watch it, because they didn’t get it anymore; they didn’t have that channel.”
Destination America, TNA Impact Wrestling’s former TV residence, covers about 60 million homes. TNA in its final months on Destination America was averaging about 300,000 viewers.
Schwartz was impressed with 1.3-million viewers during TNA’s Spike days.
“That’s a number that’s in my head,” Schwartz said, “and then surpassing it.”
Times have changed. Look at the landscape of the television viewing market; it’s very different these days. With the emergence of YouTube, Netflix, Internet TV and the increasing number of television channels -- many catering to a certain niche -- 1-million viewers is respectable for any program.
“Now that’s just the business side of things,” Schwartz said. “The other thing that I love about this type of content is it’s not Netflixable. This isn’t something you’re going to watch on Netflix in two years. It’s in the moment. It’s appointment tune television. It’s exciting, and you got to tune in every single week. That is rare in television today.”
Schwartz broke it down.
“So what’s rare in television today is a show that does 1-million viewers. What’s rare in television today is a show that you need to watch on your television set, and you need to watch it this week. Those are two very, very exciting things to us.”
Pop, an entertainment network focusing on pop culture, debuted in January.
“As an emerging network -- one of the fastest growing networks on television -- press and social buzz and just being a part of a conversation, all of those things are data points which are important to us,” Schwartz said. “More people talking about us, more people talking about the content we have on TV, more people watching. This partnership between us and [TNA] Impact Wrestling, our goal is to build it into a very, very big business and to have even more success than it’s ever had.”
TNA, which debuted in June 2002, will make its Pop debut on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016. Entering its 15th year, this marks the 13th year on national television, quite an accomplishment for any pro wrestling company. TNA also has international television distribution.
Schwartz addressed some of the social media banter describing TNA Impact Wrestling as an infomercial on Pop.
“I obviously saw a lot of those social comments, and it’s a little insulting people would think that,” Schwartz said. “We are a channel that’s in over 85-million homes. We are a channel that is owned by CBS and Lionsgate. We all have extraordinarily large dreams of where we can take this channel. What I can guarantee you and promise you is that we would never whore out our prime-time to an infomercial.
“If we’re going to put something in our prime-time, it’s because it’s an important piece of the puzzle that’s going to build our entire business to be one of the top cable channels on television in the future. That’s our dream. That’s our goal. When you work for CBS and Lionsgate, winning is the only goal. Our dream is to be a Top 10 cable network, and we feel [TNA Impact Wrestling] is a piece that will get us there. It’s certainly worked for USA.”
USA Network houses WWE Raw on prime-time every Monday night. Raw debuted in 1993 on prime-time on USA and continued through 2000 where it then signed with TNN, which became Spike TV. Raw returned to USA in 2005. That spans 23 years and counting.
TNA Impact Wrestling inked a multi-year deal with Pop.
Schwartz did not want to discuss deal semantics but said: “It’s a multi-year deal, and we are joined at the hip in making it as successful as possible and monetizing it together. Unlike the networks it’s been on in the past, you’re going to see promos on the air, promoting it every single week. A good amount of promos every single week, all 52 weeks of the year, promoting Impact Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
“I think that’s different, and I think that also lends itself to the fact that we’re in this. We want it to be the biggest show on our network. We are very excited to have this show on our network on Tuesday nights. I hope it’s a huge hit and stays there forever. Our job now is to make the other six nights of the week big.”
TNA Impact Wrestling found a new home.
“So we are fully behind [TNA Impact Wrestling]. This is something we’re proud of; we’re committed to, and we’re going to promote on channel and off channel, and I hope we can eclipse the numbers that it had on Spike, that it becomes bigger than ever, and then it’s our responsibility to build the other nights of the week, but this should be one we leave alone for a while.”
Why Tuesday nights?
“When we were trying to figure out where to schedule it, our research team looks at all the competitive networks out there,” Schwartz said. “What everybody is airing every night of the week; where the most available eyeballs are. We know that this is a younger audience. So when are they home, when are they watching television? We know that there’s Thursday night football. We know that there’s Sunday night football. We know that there’s Monday night football. We certainly know what USA [Network] and Syfy are doing in the wrestling space.”
USA Network broadcasts a three-hour live WWE Raw program each Monday night and Syfy a two-hour taped WWE SmackDown each Thursday night.
“So you take all of that into consideration and then you kind of figure out, ‘OK, where can we offer up a product where there isn’t a lot of competition for that same type of viewer?’
“Tuesdays became a night that we looked at. Wednesdays was a night that we looked at. Once we settled on Tuesdays, then we figured out what time. Dixie and the Impact team they know their audience very, very well. They’ve had years of talking directly with that audience. They thought that 9 p.m. was a time that really worked well for their audience, where they’ve had some success in the past.
“So that’s how Tuesday at 9 came together.”
Schwartz noted Pop will replay Impact, too.
Beginning Jan. 5 on Pop, TNA Impact Wrestling will air 9-11 p.m. ET/PT each Tuesday and replayed an hour later from midnight-2 a.m.
Schwartz added: ‘That allows the midnight airing to be 9 p.m., if you have Dish or DirecTV on the west coast. So wherever you live, you’ll be able to get it at 9 p.m., which is really nice from a scheduling and marketing perspective.”
Schwartz continued: “It’s more gut than science, but you try to get as many data points that you can, put them together and figure out the best place to schedule it, and we really feel we’ve hit on a good slot for it, and I’ve been happy with the reaction we’ve been getting from the wrestling community for Tuesdays at 9 p.m. People seem to think it’s a smart idea.”
Schwartz also said they’ve maintained active conversations through the entire process with TNA about what other content they can create with them.
“I know they have a bunch of shows that they do in Europe that are kind of off-shoots of Impact,” he said. “There’s a bunch of different reality ideas and other types of ideas that can play along with the talent of Impact Wrestling. There are so many different types of shows that we can make with them...because once you have a passionate audience watching that show every Tuesday at 9 p.m., then for me, as a programmer, I ask, ‘What should go on at 11?”
- TNA tickets on sale
Following the announcement of IMPACT WRESTLING moving to Pop beginning in 2016, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling will return to the Sands Bethlehem Event Center in Bethlehem, Pa. for five action-packed nights of television events, beginning with the live broadcast debut of IMPACT WRESTLING on Pop at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Tuesday, Jan. 5.
The tapings continue Wednesday, Jan. 6 and Thursday, Jan. 7 with Friday, Jan. 8, and Saturday, Jan. 9 featuring One Night Only pay-per-views and international television shows.
Tickets, which start at $10 (no additional fees), are on sale and can be purchased at sandseventcenter.com, the Event Center box office, ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster outlets, or by phone at 800-745-3000.
A limited number of VIP packages, which include a front-row ringside seat and special meet-n-greet session with photo and autograph opportunities, are available for $75 at shoptna.com.
IMPACT WRESTLING features some of the world’s top athletes, including Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle, Jeff and Matt Hardy, Bobby Lashley, Ethan Carter III, Drew Galloway, Bobby Roode, Gail Kim and the lovely and lethal TNA Knockouts, and the high-flying risk-taking X-Division including Tigre Uno.
For up-to-date information, go to
at Sands Bethlehem Event Center
6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 5
6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 6
6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 7
7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 8
7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9
- Pop for TNA
Pop, a network that celebrates the excitement of being a fan, will soon become the exclusive U.S. television home of IMPACT WRESTLING, the hard-hitting, high-flying global sports sensation enjoyed by millions of fans around the world.
Pop (formerly TV Guide Channel) will premiere IMPACT WRESTLING with a live two-hour, action-packed broadcast on Tuesday, Jan. 5, and the show will continue to air every Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The show features some of the biggest stars in professional wrestling, including Jeff and Matt Hardy, EC3, Kurt Angle, Bobby Lashley, The Wolves, Eric Young, Tigre Uno and Gail Kim.
“Wrestling has been a fan-fueled staple since the ‘50s, and continues to be some of the most-watched appointment television today. The die-hard fandom and extraordinary passion surrounding IMPACT WRESTLING captures the spirit of Pop as a network that celebrates fan-driven entertainment and excitement,” Brad Schwartz, president of Pop, said in a release. “We’re committed to this new partnership and psyched to bring the show’s loyal fans a dedicated night to watch their favorite show on Pop every week.”
IMPACT WRESTLING is a strong global brand seen on networks in more than 120 countries around the world and broadcast in 17 languages. Its fans are some of the most devoted and socially active in sports, with more than 15 million aggregated social media followers and nearly 700 million video views on YouTube, making it the seventh-most-viewed sports channel, ahead of MLB, NHL, MLS and FIFATV.
“Pop’s enthusiasm for our partnership and the network’s fan focus is a perfect fit for our company,” said TNA President Dixie Carter. “Wresting has always been at the forefront of pop culture with the most passionate, loyal fan base. We’re thrilled to be in business with Pop and to bring IMPACT WRESTLING to more than 80 million homes.”
To find IMPACT WRESTLING on Pop, go to
Pop on the Web: poptv.com
Pop Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PopTelevision
Pop Twitter: https://twitter.com/PopTV
Pop Instagram: @poptv
- About Pop
Fans don’t sit at the outskirts of pop culture making snarky comments. They live right smack in the middle of it, sharing, creating, and connecting their passions with others. At Pop, fans finally have a destination that celebrates the fun of being a fan. Fans aren’t even fans anymore — they’re gladiators, tributes, human beings and blockheads.
Seen in more than 80 million homes, Pop gives fans a dedicated channel that loves being a fan as much as they do. A channel that respects talent over celebrity. A channel filled with optimism, passion, humor, and excitement. A channel that understands the fun doesn’t stop when the credits roll… it’s really just the beginning.
Pop is a joint venture of CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS.A and CBS) and Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF). The partnership combines CBS’s programming, production and marketing assets with Lionsgate’s resources in motion pictures, television and digitally delivered content.
Pop’s ownership structure is comprised of the company with the #1 broadcast network and many of the top first-run syndication series (“Entertainment Tonight,” “The Insider”) and the studio that produces and distributes the blockbuster “Hunger Games,” “Twilight” and “Divergent” franchises and produces such award-winning TV series as “Mad Men” and “Orange is the New Black.”
- About TNA
TNA Entertainment, LLC, is a privately held sports entertainment company represented by United Talent Agency and based in Nashville, Tenn., specializing in television properties, events, products, merchandise and music, as well as the management and promotion of professional wrestlers.
The roster features such greats as Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, EC3, Matt Hardy, Bobby Lashley, Bobby Roode, Mr. Anderson, Drew Galloway, the high-flying X-Division and the lovely and lethal Knockouts, through its highly successful flagship IMPACT WRESTLING weekly broadcast, which will begin airing in 2016 on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Pop network.
The product is the world’s most innovative experience in professional wrestling and is broadcast in more than 120 countries.
For information, visit www.IMPACTWRESTLING.com or follow @IMPACTWRESTLING and @TNADixie on twitter.