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Destination America Is Mishandling TNA And Leading The Promotion To Its Demise



Heading into TNA’s move from Spike TV to Destination America, I was a major proponent of the move. The relationship between Spike and TNA began to deteriorate rapidly and a new start many assumed would do the company some good. With mounting financial issues (thanks Hulk Hogan) and questionable writing decisions, the move came at a time where it was time for TNA to begin finally making progress or shutter their doors.

The move to Destination America had its detractors. It was a network with a 40 million home deficit from Viacom-owned Spike TV and not much “legitimate” programming. On the plus side, being on a smaller network meant that Impact Wrestling could become a flagship program on the channel and with more programming, TNA could begin to expose more of their talent and the product more than once a week on Fridays. It seemed that all was right with the deal.

However after just five months, it seems that it has begun to crumble for TNA on Destination America.

Impact Wrestling, while averaging between 450,000-500,000 viewers per week, are not getting the proper handling from Destination America after a promising start. The first day of TNA on the network featured an eight hour marathon of wrestling, which was followed by a live debut show. That was followed by four hours of TNA programming on Saturday morning.  Early returns were good but debuts of shows on a new network are always a highly rated event. Ratings were far above what any other show on the network was getting and frankly, that’s because the programming on Destination America stinks.

All was going well for TNA. The shows were good, if not better, than some WWE TV shows and while viewership was not at Spike TV levels, many knew it was because of Destination America’s coverage on cable and satellite providers. Out of nowhere however, something started happening.

Impact Wrestling Unlocked, an enhanced replay of Impact but with interesting facts and interviews from Mike Tenay, was moved from Saturday morning to Friday nights right before the new episode of Impact. Then the TNA Greatest Matches program that followed Unlocked stopped being showed on Saturdays. That show was eventually moved to overnight Friday into Saturday from 3am-5am. That’s when eyebrows began to rise with curiosity.

Prior to the programming changes, there were reports that Destination America brass, who knows nothing about the wrestling industry, began to give input into the direction of the promotion. The UK tours, which is probably the most successful thing TNA does annually, was an issue because the network didn’t want the shows done overseas since Impact is on Destination “America”. They pushed for Kurt Angle to become champion since he is an Olympic gold medalist for…you guess it, America. So on and so forth.

According to Dave Meltzer and his Wrestling Observer Newsletter (subscription required), Destination America is now regretting the move to bring TNA into the fold and to their network.

“It’s not a secret within the Destination America company that they are regretting making the (TNA) deal, which is why all the shoulder programs that were supposed to be part of the deal are now gone. I’m not sure the reasons, as the ratings are way above the network average, but when you watch the show, the ads don’t look impressive and it was a multi-million dollar commitment.”

The TNA/Destination America situation is similar of the ECW/TNN situation from 1999.  After years of limited syndication and word of mouth advertising, Extreme Championship Wrestling began to air nationwide on TNN. Just like TNA, ECW quickly became TNN’s highest rated program, even though the network never advertised the show or even let anyone know that ECW was on TNN. After a little over a year, ECW was cancelled from the network and eventually was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2001 with the TNN deal a major part of the company’s demise.

Destination America was and still is a fledging television network with not much distribution and terrible programming. Instead of nurturing TNA and using the wrestling program to help build the network, they are more worried about their ghost hunting and redneck-centric shows. TNA meanwhile are in a predicament where they are having trouble making payroll and keeping the company alive. Instead of going to a network with multiple programs showing off their promotion, they are down to just one show a week and a network that are not looking out for them, even though they signed a multi-year deal with TNA.

In the end, it seemed that TNA’s Impact Wrestling was a show looking for a network instead of a network looking for show. At the end of the day, this partnership will not end well unless something drastic happens and Destination America finally realizes what they have. They have a wrestling promotion that if left alone and promoted could be a gem on a network which features no great shows and limited reach. However the network could always hedge their bets on shows about rednecks and ghosts because that worked so well before TNA came to Destination America (insert sarcasm here).

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Kahlil Thomas

Kahlil is the College Sports Editor for as well as a columnist, hosting the Bump 'N Run column once per week. He also co-hosts a weekly basketball podcast, The Box Out, every Thursday evening with fellow writer Jason Cordner.
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