When most people think about pro-wrestling, WWE (WWE) invariably comes to mind. For nearly 20 years, World Wrestling Entertainment has been the be-all and end-all of the wrestling world. Enter All Elite Wrestling (AEW), a hungry new startup backed by Shad Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Khan joined Yahoo Finance’s “All Markets Summit: Generational Opportunities” to talk about the future of sports ownership and AEW, whose CEO is Khan’s son, Tony Kahn, a former NFL executive.
“It all started with my son Tony. It was his idea, his passion, his drive as a lifelong wrestling fan — so I’ve supported him financially. He kept talking about it, that we ought to do it, and here are the reasons why we should do it. I kept stress testing the idea, and then I struck a check to fund it because if you’re going to do it, it’s gotta be right. That was the most important thing. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, but his idea, his passion, and his drive, and it’s off to a great start.”
The premiere episode of AEW Dynamite on Oct. 2 averaged 1,409,000 total viewers, according to Nielsen ratings. AEW even beat out rival WWE’s NXT, which pulled in an average of 891,000 total viewers during the same time slot.
Khan tells Yahoo Finance that AEW is focusing more on building its brand than competing against WWE. “WWE is a great company, but we are not here competing with them. In the golden age of wrestling during the late ‘90s, there were 10 million fans. Now It’s down to 2 million. So we’re tapping into fans who were not engaged and quite frankly the younger fan who never got quite into it. Competition is good for everybody, but it’s very important for AEW to do our own thing.”
When asked how different the wrestling business is from the football business, Kahn stressed that it comes down to how and where you find talent. “It’s quite different, and that’s the question I had for Tony. His point to me was that the big difference here is there’s a huge amount of talent that’s on the street. Whereas in football and the NFL, the top talent is already there.”
AEW is partnering with AT&T’S (T) WarnerMedia on a multi-platform launch of its new weekly wrestling program, Dynamite, which airs on TNT Wednesdays at 8 p.m.
Watch the complete interview here:
Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.