Tony Khan Reveals When He Decided to Launch AEW, Recalls Early Conversation with TBS and TNT President

Tony Khan pulls back the curtain.

The AEW president was asked about when he decided to launch the new wrestling promotion during an interview with Locked on NFL. Khan reveals he had the idea in 2018 after a brief conversation with then-TNT/TBS president Kevin Reilly, who told Khan he had previously bid on media rights for WWE before WWE ended up with FOX.

It’s something I started working on in 2018. The idea of ​​launching AEW brought many things together, and I believed that by early 2019 there would be enough great wrestlers available to launch a wrestling league. I started working on this in April 2018. I was at a party in Beverly Hills on a Friday evening. I saw my friend who was president of TBS and TNT at the time (Kevin Reilly). I walked over and visited him for a while and said, “Kevin, are you planning on bidding for wrestling TV rights?” He was, and he wanted to bid on SmackDown. He told me what he was willing to pay, he said, $150 to $175 million a year. I follow the industry closely, so I knew it would cost over $200 million, and it did. I said, ‘I don’t know if that will work. For a lot less than that, we could launch a new wrestling league on TNT and eventually TBS.” That’s what happened.

AEW would officially launch in 2019 and premiere on TNT in October. You can watch Khan’s full interview here.

(H/T and transcribed by Fightful