Petey Williams believes IMPACT moving to Pursuit makes sense for the company.
Yesterday, IMPACT Wrestling announced that their weekly television show will be moving to the Pursuit Channel beginning on Jan. 11. The show will air Friday nights at 10 p.m. ET. IMPACT Wrestling currently airs on Pop TV at 10 p.m. ET on Thursdays.
IMPACT Wrestling producer Petey Williams spoke on his Wrestling Perspective podcast about IMPACT's move to Pursuit.
"A lot of people are thinking, 'Pursuit? What's Pursuit channel?' It makes sense to me initially as soon as I read it. I didn't know about it until I woke up this morning and the big news was out. Oh, we're on Pursuit now. This is awesome. Pursuit is owned by Anthem. Anthem owns IMPACT. In my mind, I'm thinking, 'Why didn't we do this a year ago?' It makes sense to me, initially. All parties want to succeed in this."
As noted by Williams, Anthem owns both IMPACT and Pursuit. When asked whether they were moved to Friday at 10 p.m. ET in order to capture the WWE SmackDown audience -- SmackDown will move to Friday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox beginning in October -- Williams stated that he didn't believe that to be the case.
"I don't know if this is a starter slot. 'Hey, see how you guys perform on Friday at 10 pm and then from there we can move you.' Remember, when ECW when they were on TNN, they were on Friday nights at 9 or 10. And they only had an hour show."
Williams went on to discuss how IMPACT's audience has continued to follow them despite multiple network changes over the years. Williams believes that the audience will continue to follow the company, even if Pursuit is in less homes than Pop TV.
"IMPACT has been on so many networks. What's good is, now that it's owned by Anthem, IMPACT was like, 'Hey, this is what we want to do with this company.' I'm sure they shopped around to other networks and other networks may have been like, 'No, we can't accommodate that or that doesn't work for us.' I'm pretty sure Pursuit was like, 'Yeah, that lines up with our mission.' It's always good to be on a network that lines up with what you're trying to accomplish as well," said Williams. "Spike TV is the biggest network we've been on. But even when we switched from Spike; people followed us to Destination America and Pop TV. People will follow. It will be interesting to see what the ratings are. Will they go up? I have no idea."
Pursuit is known as an outdoor life network with shows centered around hunting and fishing. Williams thinks that will help IMPACT as it will allow them to be edgier. However, he isn't sure if IMPACT, or any wrestling show, fits on network television.
"Obviously, money is involved. Also, when you have Pop TV and have their demograph, I don't even know what their demograph is," said Williams. "But when you have to be cautious of what you say or do so that you can still be on that channel, that's tough. It limits what you can do with your production. Now we're on Pursuit. It's an outdoor channel and a demograph for males. It might interesting to see what type of product IMPACT is going to put out there. It's going to be interesting to see if we're going to be a little more edgy, maybe? I know a lot of wrestling fans are starved for that with the PG Era in WWE."
Williams continued, "I don't see wrestling fans as hunting or fishing or shooting type of people or outdoor rec type people. What's wrestling really related to? I relate wrestling to UFC. Or maybe Jerry Springer if you go back to the Attitude Era. But what network...I don't think wrestling really belongs on the USA Network. What network does wrestling really belong on? Spike TV would probably be the best. I don't really know a great network to put this show, or any wrestling show, on."
Finally, Williams gave his "gut reaction" to the deal when he first heard about it on Friday.
"Initially, I was like, 'Good, we got off of Pop.' You hear all these rumors like SyFy, TruTV, WGN. You can say those names to your neighbor and they're like, 'I have those networks.' You say Pursuit and they're like, 'I've never heard of it.' I look at Pursuit as...not still rebuilding, but it's good we have a new home....but I was hoping for something a little more mainstream," said Williams. "More viewers for our product. But maybe that's not where IMPACT is. Maybe we have to build our brand again. It'll be fine. I think IMPACT is looking at longevity. How can we make this last instead of just going for broke?"
You can view all the details on IMPACT moving to Pursuit by checking out Fightful's story on the deal here. Fightful also spoke to Jimmy Jacobs, who works on the IMPACT creative team, about the deal. You can listen to that interview here.