Tony Khan on AEW’s Next Media Rights Deal

Khan also detailed the importance behind the five-year anniversary of Double or Nothing

Five years ago, All Elite Wrestling launched its inaugural pay-per-view.

And professional wrestling has never been the same.

AEW owner Tony Khan pioneered a change that reverberated across the industry. He has partnered with New Japan Pro-Wrestling, bought Ring of Honor, and helped breathe life into TNA, and even forever altered WWE.

If AEW ceased to exist, it is unlikely Cody Rhodes ever triumphantly returns to WWE and seizes the main event spot. Hell would not have frozen over, which almost certainly happened when CM Punk made a shocking homecoming last November to a company he vowed to have left forever.

AEW now stands as a destination, which is evident from recent free agent signings Mercedes Moné, Kazuchika Okada, and Will Ospreay.

“It’s amazing how far we’ve come,” said Khan, who is AEW’s CEO, GM and Head of Creative. “When we came to Vegas five years ago for the original Double or Nothing, we had never done a single episode of AEW TV. We hadn’t launched Dynamite yet. We were a brand-new company doing our very first show.”

Over the past five years, Khan oversaw the launch of a successful franchise in Dynamite, which has aired 242 episodes. AEW airs on both TNT and TBS, airing five hours of original programming each week.

Five years ago, Khan signed a five-year media rights deal with Warner Bros. Discovery. That agreement concludes at the end of the year, and there are strong indications that the two sides will announce a new deal before their exclusive negotiating window closes.

“It’s a really exciting time for AEW,” said Khan. “We’re in active negotiations for the AEW media rights. Warner Bros. Discovery continues to be the best possible partner, and they’ve helped us grow this brand. It’s going to be a very exciting remainder to this year, and we’ll find out where AEW is going to live.

“For everyone who cares about AEW all over the world, we’re in a great position. This is going to work out really well for AEW. We’re having great talks, and people should feel very confident about what that means for the wrestlers, the staff, and the fans. As a result of everyone’s hard work and endless support from the fans, there will be a tremendous deal for AEW. The outlook for the company is so bright moving forward.”

As AEW enters tonight’s Double or Nothing pay-per-view, Khan finds himself in unfamiliar territory as an on-air character. He was attacked by The Elite last month, taking a shot in the gut from Jack Perry before being laid out by the Tony Khan Driver from the Young Bucks.

A similar angle was pitched in January, Sports Illustrated learned, but Khan’s focus was on Sting’s retirement run and final match.

“I’ve never wanted to take up any amount of AEW television time on myself,” said Khan. “I want the focus to be on the wrestlers and the rivalries. In this case, The Elite’s grievances had been accumulating. They hold these powerful positions, and they did all these dastardly things to Sting and his family before Revolution, establishing themselves as these evil heels. It’s clear they were hungry for more power, so it made sense for them to take me out and control the shows. That’s led to a struggle with the wrestlers who love AEW and everything it represents.”

The timing of the attack was serendipitous. It led right into the NFL Draft–the Khans own the Jacksonville Jaguars franchise–and Khan received well wishes from multiple NFL executives who were unaware that the neck brace he was wearing was courtesy of an attack from The Elite.

“Rich Eisen gave us so much great publicity to promote AEW at that moment,” said Khan. “Rich is a great host, and he’s a key part of sports and entertainment coverage. He explained throughout the draft why I was in the neck brace, which helped people understand what was happening.”

Khan returned to Dynamite this past week, driving Darby Allin to the show. Bryan Danielson, FTR, and Allin wrestle Okada, the Bucks, and Perry tonight in an Anarchy in the Arena match.

The Anarchy in the Arena match is a chance to make The Elite pay for their misdeeds–or allow them to further extend their grip on the company. It is a signature piece of the 10-match card, which includes the AEW in-ring debut for Moné, IWGP world heavyweight champion Jon Moxley against Konosuke Takeshita, Adam Copeland against Malakai Black in a barbed wire steel cage, and Swerve Strickland making his first pay-per-view title defense as world champion.

“Our roster is the strongest group in all of wrestling,” said Khan. ‘This is where the best come to wrestle. That’s more than a slogan, it’s a mindset–and it’s the truth.

“We’re very proud of what we’re accomplishing, and this is only the beginning.”

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Justin Barrasso


Justin Barrasso has been writing for Sports Illustrated since 2014. While his primary focus is pro wrestling and MMA, he has also covered MLB, NBA, and the NFL. He can be reached at and followed on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.