Capitalizing on the ratings draw of professional wrestling, Pop announced Thursday that it has become the new U.S. television home to Impact Wrestling.
The program, produced by Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, joins the CBS Corporation and Lionsgate-owned cabler after a brief stint at Destination America. (It has previously aired under other names on Fox Sports Net, Urban America Television and Spike).
“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,” said Pop President Brad Schwartz. “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.”
Pop will premiere the series with a live two-hour broadcast on Jan. 5. It will continue to air at 9 p.m. every Tuesday and will feature wrestling stars like Jeff and Matt Hardy, EC3, Kurt Angle, Bobby Lashley, the Wolves, Eric Young, Tigre Uno and Gail Kim.
“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.”
The deal has the potential of paying off for Pop as USA Network has seen success with WWE Monday Night Raw. WWE SmackDown recently moved to USA from sister channel Syfy. It will debut there at 8 p.m. on Jan. 7. The WWE-produced pay-per-view event SummerSlam aired last summer and was hosted by Jon Stewart.