Recently, Joe Koff participated in a podcast interview with Eric Bischoff on the MLW Radio network. Mr. Koff revealed an interesting tidbit of information that I had not read before: In exchange for producing the weekly ROH show for Sinclair affiliates in a barter deal (meaning, no money is exchanged), Ring of Honor is provided with 3 minutes of advertising time per week to sell. Ads are typically sold in 30 second slots, so that would be 6 ads to sell per week. ROH engages with a third-party to sell the advertising on their behalf.
For the purpose of this article, I am going to speculate, based on information that has been put out, or at least rumored, about what other wrestling promotions are earning, so that we can come to understand a general structure regarding how much money ROH could be earning in this deal.
WWE: Of course, the high water mark for professional wrestling advertising sales would be Monday Night Raw. As it is a well-known program on a prestigious network, it would be unfair to assume that ROH is earning anywhere near these rates. In 2016, Raw was earning $12,000-$13,000 per week on 30 second advertisements with 3,000,000 viewers. Assuming a viewership of 500,000 ROH viewers at a pro-rated rate based on only 1/6th of the viewers, ROH would earn $2,004-$2,171 per 30-second slot, $12,024 per week and $625,000+ per year. Again, I think this would be unrealistic to expect.
Lucha Underground: Next, let’s examine Lucha Underground during their first year El Rey, an upstart network. Lucha Underground was earning $150-300 per 30 second commercial with a viewership of 100,000. Assuming a viewership of 500,000 ROH viewers at a pro-rated rate based on 5X more viewers, ROH would earn $750- $1,500 per 30 second slot, $4,500- $9,000 per week and between $234,000-468,000 per year.
Impact/TNA: Finally, we have Impact (or as it was known, TNA). TNA was earning $335 per 30 second commercial with a viewership of 250,000 in 2016. Assuming a viewership of 500,000 ROH viewers at a pro-rated rate based on 2X more viewers, ROH would earn $670 per 30 second slot, $4,020 per week and $209,040.
With the numbers in front of us, I believe it would be fair to explore a rate of $700-$1,600 per 30 second commercial for ROH, with a total of $4,200- $9,600 per week and $218,400-$499,200 per year. Since sales are going through a third party, let’s assume that the 3rd party is taking a 10% commission leaving ROH with $196,500-$449,280 per year in advertising revenue.
Please keep in mind, the structure of a Comet TV (and soon, Charge!TV) is likely different and this does not include things like international (Portugal, India), FiteTV, and other means of distribution.
Lavie Margolin has been a professional wrestling fan since 1988 and has attended ROH shows regularly since 2004. Lavie is currently completing his latest book, Trumpmania (examining Donald Trump’s 30 year involvement in the world of professional wrestling). If you’d like to be informed when the book is launched in 2018, sign up here. Tweet me @Laviemarg