×

TNN in the grips of Extreme wrestling

Cabler shares ECW's revenue including telecasts, arena events, merchandising

NEW YORK — CBS Cable’s TNN has jumped into the pro wrestling arena by cutting a deal with Extreme Championship Wrestling to produce a weekly one-hour Friday night show.

TNN hopes to capitalize on the popularity of the two major pro wrestling outfits, the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling.

The WWF generates cable’s highest ratings on USA Network and the WCW scores strong ratings for TNT and TBS. In the fall, broadcast weblet UPN will premiere its own Thursday night WWF show.

The ECW, which produces six pay-per-view events each year, is known for pushing the envelope on violent content. But TNN and ECW execs said the shows will be toned down for basic cable.

“We’re not going to go off the deep end,” said David Hall, prexy of TNN. “The WWF has gone a little too far.”

Seeking dudes

TNN, which will premiere the ECW series on Aug. 27 at 8 p.m., is counting on the pro wrestling show to draw young men to the cabler. TNN will pair the ECW on Friday nights with “Rollerjam,” which has attracted a significantly younger audience to the web.

In an unusual three-year deal between TNN and ECW, the cabler will share in the revenue of all of ECW’s activities, including its TNN telecasts, PPV events, arena events, homevideo, magazines, CD compilations, e-commerce and merchandising.

ECW managing director Steve Karel said that TNN’s ECW shows will differ from both the WWF and WCW.

An integrated approach

“We’re going to return to the meat and potatoes of wrestling athleticism in the ring,” said Karel. “The storylines and characters will develop from the activities in the ring, not like the other guys, who focus on storylines that have nothing to do with the ring action.”

Although ECW is not well known nationally, Karel said that the WWF and WCW have been paying close attention to the league. Karel said that many of the wild stunts and sexual innuendoes featured in the WWF and WCW were lifted from ECW.

In addition, he said the two bigger wrestling organizations have hired away 30 of ECW’s performers in the last 18 months.

Paul Heyman is the owner of ECW parent HHG Corp. and exec producer of ECW.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • BritBox Is 'Not a Rival to

    BritBox 'Not a Rival to Netflix and Amazon' but Something Different, ITV Exec Says

    BritBox, ITV and the BBC’s joint “best of British” streaming service, is not being positioned as a rival to Netflix and Amazon but offers something those two streaming giants don’t, ITV director of television Kevin Lygo said. Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival on Friday, Lygo said BritBox would be a “different thing” that allowed [...]

  • Stefano Sollima for Web Story

    'ZeroZeroZero' Creator on Making an Old Story New and How Andrea Riseborough Got Hurt (EXCLUSIVE)

    Stefano Sollima, the Italian director known in Hollywood for “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” and TV show “Gomorrah,” is the main creative force behind cocaine-trafficking series “ZeroZeroZero,” which will world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on Sept. 5. Festival chief Alberto Barbera has praised it as blowing “Narcos” out of the water. Sollima directed [...]

  • Ballers HBO

    'Ballers' to End After Season 5 on HBO

    “Ballers” is coming to an end after five seasons on HBO. Star and executive producer Dwayne Johnson confirmed the news via an emotional Instagram video. “My heart is full of gratitude to all of you for rocking with us every season. You made us HBO’s highest rated comedy for years and most importantly, you helped [...]

  • Sublime Primetime

    How Emmy-Nominated Writers’ Rooms Keep Politics in Mind

    In a world filled with elections, social movements and national tragedies, how open should the doors of a writers’ room actually be? For some of this year’s Emmy-nominated shows, those doors are wide open. Before the 71st annual Primetime Emmy Awards air on Sept. 22, the Writers Guild of America West and Writers Guild Foundation, [...]

  • Disney Villains Series 'Book of Enchantment'

    'Book of Enchantment' Series Based on Iconic Disney Villains Shelved at Disney Plus

    Disney Plus has decided to not move forward with “Book of Enchantment,” a series based on some of Disney’s most iconic villains, Variety has learned from sources. The news comes the day before Disney is set to unveil its streaming service at the biannual D23 convention in Anaheim. The prospective project was based on the [...]

  • ITV STUDIOS PRESENTS VERAFILM 2Pictured: BRENDA

    Brenda Blethyn to Star in New ITV Sitcom 'Kate and Kolo'

    Oscar-nominated Brenda Blethyn is set to star in the new sitcom “Kate and Kolo” for ITV, the U.K. broadcaster announced at the Edinburgh TV Festival. Blethyn takes on the title role of Kate in the comedy alongside theater and film actor Jimmy Akingbola as Kolo. Blethyn is a popular star with ITV audiences after having [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content