Word broke last week that come January 2017, Challenge TV, the UK home of TNA since 2011, would cease showing impact and other TNA programming. Whilst on the surface this may not be big news for fans in the U.S. And elsewhere, it speaks to just how big the problems facing TNA now are. For almost 6 years impact has been the highest rated programming on challenge TV, going so far as to draw higher weekly ratings than either WWE's Raw or Smackdown. Some may initially scoff at that statistic but when you factor in that WWE programming is shown live at 1am British time on a pay channel and TNA is shown at 9pm on a free channel, you get why that is. Do not let that discredit what TNA has been able to do however because the fact remains that despite all of its woes, TNA has done a remarkably good job of building and maintaining a presence in the UK thanks to its yearly tours and yes, well the support of its television partner. Now however, that relationship is coming to an end and for those of us who watch TNA here, the question is, what's next?
Of course, in terms of Television exposure, that seems to be a question that TNA Fans in the U.S. Have been asking since word first broke that Spike TV would not be continuing their partnership to broadcast their flagship show several years ago. Since then impact has drifted to Destination America and onto POP TV with diminishing results with each move. Like the relationship with Challenge, the one TNA had with Spike was one in which all parties seemed happy, at least that was until Spike found out that Vince Russo, someone whom they had stated they did not want involved with writing a tv show on their network, was in fact doing just that. Suddenly Spike left the table and in doing so, took with them the reported $10 Million funding that they gave TNA for airing impact. Whilst the deal with Challenge is nowhere near as lucrative, it still provided a healthy source of income for a company that has been haemorrhaging money for several years now. In hindsight however, the blow from losing the Spike deal wasn't so much the financial one, it was the exposure one. Regardless of what way the ratings trended, Spike gave TNA the best platform of its existence and fans and casual viewers knew where to find the show but it seemed like when TNA left that network, many fans left TNA and as of yet, they haven't came back. Right now I'm betting a lot of folks in TNA are worried that the same thing is about to happen to their foothold in the U.K.
For their part, TNA have said they are committed to finding a new home for its programming in Britain and have stated they want one who will show impact closer to its U.S. Air time as opposed to the 3-5 day delay it's previously had on Challenge. Just where TNA finds that home however is a tricky one. Sky TV, the main satellite provider here have a long term deal with WWE so you can rule out any Sky branded channel for a start. Some good options would be BT Sport (home of UFC) or even the British version of Spike (who show Bellator) but realistically, I have a hard time imaging many networks will be lining up to pay for TNA programming when for some reason, Challenge are dropping them despite all the success they've had together and landing on a British equivalent of something like POP or Destination America will do them about as much good as it has done them in the states. Speaking of which, everyone and their Mother seems to agree that TNA are dying a death on POP TV but no one seems to know where else they can go from here. Perhaps the good folks at Anthem Entertainment have some ideas, after all, their business is television and more than anyone they are bound to understand the importance of finding the best platform possible for a product that they are now literally invested in.
While all TNA Fans wait to see where the company is headed in general, us fans in the UK wait to see where we will be able to watch TNA come January 2017. After being a fan since 2002 I just hope I can watch at all