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By Mike Johnson on 2016-05-23 12:23:00

As is always the case with TNA Impact Wrestling, the sky is falling.  It's been a rough few years for TNA, thanks to past transgressions, poor decisions and outside factors alike but over the last several weeks, there has been a groundswell of discussion that the company was, once again, on shaky ground with it's current television partner here in the United States, POP TV.   TNA was not featured in the cable network's Upfronts presentation.  An Impact Wrestling replay was moved and then discarded.  Was this the beginning of the end yet again?

Realizing that asking Dixie Carter and John Gaburick on record would likely lead to a presumption among some readers, right or wrong, that they were spinning facts to protect the company, I decided to take a different tact. reached out to POP TV, requesting time with Network President Bradley Schwartz to ask about the status of TNA on POP and what all the recent moves actually meant for the short and long-term scheme of things.

To his credit, Schwartz granted us twenty minutes to ask anything we wanted. Elite subscribers have been listening to the conversation, but here is a complete transcript of the interview.

Mike Johnson: Let's start with the obvious question: Define to me what POP's relationship is with TNA a few months into this relationship and where does TNA stand going forward?  One of the things that has come up has been that TNA was not represented in the POP Upfront presentation - even though that happened a month ago, for some reason this week it's come up - they're not in the Upfronts, so it must be a situation where history is repeating itself and just like their previous home at Destination America, they weren't mentioned in the Upfronts and they were out the door and left that entity a few months later.  What is TNA's status with POP and where do they stand when it comes to POP's future plans?

Bradley Schwartz:  Yeah,  I appreciate.  I've seen all the chatter as well and I've got to say, as someone who has spent my career in the pop culture space and I have a big music background and music TV background, so I know what the passion of fans is like and it is amazing the passion and I love it.  I love the good, I love the bad and I love the ugly.  It's amazing and I think it's the most passionate group of fans that I've ever come across.  I absolutely love the passion that is out there, but you're right, sometimes people make assumptions or they hear something or read something and they pile on.  So, to answer your question just point blank - our relationship with Impact is amazing.  I love the show every Tuesday night.  My relationship with [TNA President] Dixie [Carter] is very special and ultimately, I think the product that is going on the air every Tuesday night is the best wrestling product going.  The characters, the ring action, it is amazing to watch.  Obviously it's now part of my job to watch every week as I do with all of our original programming and I'm sucked in.    Every single Tuesday I need to watch the show because I am sucked in and we're excited about it.  It's the second highest rated show on our network.  I don't know of too many people that are successful in television getting rid of the second highest rated show on their network.  For us, we're excited.  We have a long term deal with Impact and you know, until there are twenty different shows doing better than it, it's going to stay where it is for awhile.

Mike Johnson:  Let me ask you this.  You guys had the Impact Wrestling replay on Tuesday evenings.  That replay was moved to Saturday and now that replay is gone.  From a television perspective and a programmer's perspective, explain why that replay went away?  I think a lot of people saw that replay go away and went, 'OK, this means Col. Mustard is in the room with the pipe and he's about to crack Dixie Carter in the head with it.  This is a sign that the relationship is faltering."  Give us a reason as to why the repeat went away - maybe it's going to come back in some other form, I don't know -  but from a programmer's perspective, maybe explain why it was moved to Saturday, why it's gone and why people should or should not be concerned about that replay being gone?

Bradley Schwartz: Yeah, that's a great question and again, I love the passion when people out there see that and just jump to conclusions.  So, I'll just give the explanation from a pure programming standpoint.  So, when we started the relationship, obviously Impact was new on POP and we wanted to let as many people as possible have an opportunity to find it as possible and so, you want to premiere it and then you want to repeat it so that, more people can know it's on and start to make an appointment tuning into it.  Television has changed over the last five years, the last three years, the last two years with Video on Demand and delayed viewing and DVRs, it's like repeats across every network just don't make as much sense as they used to.  With people consuming content on their own terms, the whole idea of repeats just doesn't make as much sense.  From a marketing standpoint, we wanted to attract and we wanted to  try to suck in people flipping channels and try to encourage and find as much of that as possible.  We did that for three, three and a half months and then we decided, 'OK, people know it's Tuesdays at nine o'clock now, everything's going well, we don't need that repeat anymore.'  People are DVRing it, people are Video on Demand-ing it, people are watching it live.  So, then, again from a marketing perspective, we thought that maybe we move the repeat to the weekend, we'll be able to find some new viewers.  People who are flipping on the weekend and looking for something on Saturday mornings.   There was a little bit of nostalgia for me personally because when I was growing up in Canada, I used to watch wrestling on Saturday mornings  So, I said, let's try that.  Let's see if we can find some new viewers who aren't watching on Tuesday.  We did that for four weeks, five weeks and I think it worked a little but ultimately, it wasn't performing as well as other content that we could have in that timeslot could perform and frankly, we didn't market it at all.  We were literally hoping it would find people.  So, the plan all along was to have one big, appointment viewed, two hour show where people can all watch live and social media and people can all chatter and talk all about it as possible and if you can't make it Tuesdays at nine, then via Video on Demand or via DVR delayed viewing, that's how you're going to watch it if you aren't going to watch Tuesday at nine and that's it.  All of our other original programming, Schitt's Creek, Rock This Boat, Sing it On, these shows are all do very well in their premieres and then they pick up a lot of viewers in delayed viewing but across all networks, repeats just do not work.  They used to, as recently as five years ago.

Interview continues on Page 2.

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