If you’re reading this then you probably already know that Ring of Honor has been sold to the Sinclair Broadcasting Group. If not, here are the details: http://rohworld.com/news/071.html.
Since the sale, I’ve seen a few articles that have looked over the sale and given a very bleak view as to what it means for ROH’s future. It’s very easy to jump on the ‘change is not good’ bandwagon but you don’t get anywhere in business without some gambles.
Cary Silkin had owned ROH for seven years and seems extremely excited about this opportunity. His passion not just for ROH but Professional Wrestling in general makes me believe that he wouldn’t have sold the company to just anybody. As he said in his first interview after the sale (http://rohworld.com/news/073.html), he did his due diligence and feels that this is a new era for Ring of Honor. If anybody’s opinion on this should count, it’s Cary’s.
Sinclair Broadcasting Group are a big company and people likening this sale to the AOL/Time Warner merger in WCW are way out. That was a corporate merger than put WCW in the hands of people who didn’t want to be associated with wrestling. The sale to SBG is a mutual deal which will benefit both parties.
SBG cover 22% of US households and operate the largest number of local television stations in the United States – 58. They operate mainly in the South and Mid West which is a good thing in my opinion. I know ROH’s core fanbase is in the East but those fans will stick with ROH if they are on TV or not. This deal is a great chance for ROH to grow its fanbase into new markets not only in the US but across the world. It would seem that SBG’s main goal is syndication. They are hoping that ROH does well in its time slot and that they can then sell the show to other stations across the country which would increase the percentage of the US covered significantly.
I don’t think the HDNet deal did much for ROH in terms of increasing the number of fans. It wasn’t widely received in the US and wasn’t available overseas. The shows were legally shown on Youtube for international fans but ROH decided to stop this and this left us overseas fans in the dark. The great news of the new TV deal is that the show will be available on the soon to be revamped ROH website so everybody will get to see it. That’s a very key point, especially seeing as those overseas fans can then invest more money in the product through internet pay-per-views and merchandise.
I can understand people being cautious about this deal but some of the things I’ve read on the internet are very silly. ROH has managed to survive 9 years of business by being a DVD product. ROH can survive without a TV deal. If you took TV off WWE or TNA, they would fold in less than 12 months. I fully understand that SBG will want ROH to get good ratings but they have made an investment into the product and will fully understand that ROH is still a niche product and so the main aim with the show will be to draw in more fans.
I like the fact that they’re going to be switching the taping locations as I felt the HDNet show had a flat crowd most of the time. It was hard to book a TV show that far in advance as it’s more or less impossible to get it to tie in with current storylines and plans when it’s taped that far in advance. A lot of the HDNet shows just felt like a couple of random matches with no ramifications or outcomes which failed to get the casual fan hooked on ROH and this has to change.
A lot of people were saying that ROH was in financially difficulty and some were even saying the announcement was going to be that ROH was closing. While nobody knows if ROH were making money or not, you can clearly see by the sale that Cary Silkin wasn’t desperate to get rid of the company. Cary didn’t go round flogging the company to people, an investor was interested in the company and a deal was done which was mutually beneficial. ROH as we know it won’t change in the short-term. In the long-term it may but we can only wait and see, there is no point trying to second guess what may happen, let’s just enjoy this present.
At the end of the day, nobody knows what will happen. SBG genuinely sound like they like the ROH product as it is and that we won’t be seeing any major changes. Most of the backroom staff will be staying so the heart of ROH will still be in tact. If SBG don’t change a lot and act mainly as financial backing, this deal will work out well for ROH. The only thing to worry about is that ROH is now in the hands of a corporation and things change very quickly in big businesses. But look at it this way: if there’s anybody in ROH who cares as much, or even more, about the company than we do, it’s Cary Silkin. Let’s trust Cary on this one and look forward to a bright future for the best Professional Wrestling company on the planet.