With all the hubbub of Sinclair’s Acquisition of Tribune stations (including potential new broadcast markets to air ROH), it is easy to forget what came along with the deal: WGN America.
WGN America is carried in around 72,000,000 homes. This is comparable to Pop TV, in 75,000,000 homes. For a comparison of weekly average ratings according to TV Newser (week of 2/6), WGN America had a .4 average, with Pop having a .2 average.
WGN America had been growing ratings and visibility with the introduction of original programming like Outsiders and Underground. Those shows were cancelled in a cost-cutting move by Tribune in anticipation of the sale. According to a Variety article, the focus of the new owners will be “repositioning WGN America for profitable growth.” Meaning no more expensive dramas and a focus on inexpensive programming.
Perhaps inexpensive programming that is owned by the company? Hello, Ring of Honor! ROH seems to be positioned as filler programming across the ever-expanding Sinclair universe. Whether it is providing the one-hour show for use by affiliates, slotted in on a late Wednesday night on Comet TV or showing “classics” on ASN, ROH is there.
Joe Koff has made no secret of the fact that he would love another regular slot on Cable TV. Although ROH aired on Destination America for only 6 months, drawing high’s around 200,000 viewers, Mr. Koff would like a slot that is widely available and easy to share (Watch Thursdays at 9pm!).
Wrestling programming on the WGN America network would be nothing new. WWE Superstars aired on the station for two years, ending in 2011. Ratings for the first run of the program usually hovered around a .7 average.
What could ROH Potentially air on WGN?
- The weekly show. WGN America would be used as another outlet to distribute the current show. This was the strategy used when ROH had a slot on Destination America. If ROH airs in wider syndication after the merger, this would be a real stretch if WGN would like to do a decent rating, as so many would have already seen the show.
- A second program with the current stars featured. One show could play off of the other and the programs could be taped in tandem to save money. Think WCW Saturday Night (on TBS) and WCW Pro (in syndication).
- Women of Honor. A program solely devoted to women’s wrestling beyond a special on the regular show here and there might be too much to conceive under regular circumstances . Doing so on a new cable program would bring uniqueness to the market (as there are currently now major shows that are solely women focused, with apologies to Dave McClane/Jeanie Buss). The show would replace the WOH tapings done for YouTube broadcast.
If Sinclair decides to air the weekly show that has already been distributed, I would speculate on a .1 to a .2 average. If it was a new show with the same stars (and promoted in syndication), I believe it could do a .3 to a .5 rating. A WOH show would hard to speculate on as it would be unique. It could build buzz and raw a better rating than usual programming or be rejected by fans.
All comments here are speculative and for entertainment purposes only and no misrepresentation of Sinclair Broadcast Group, Ring of Honor or related brands is intended. Full disclosure: I am a Sinclair Broadcasting Group (SBG) shareholder.