The wrestling industry’s foremost number-cruncher and bean counter, Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics, is painting a grim picture of AEW’s financials for 2023.

According to Thurston’s estimations AEW is on its way to losing $34 million dollars this year.

“For 2023, I estimate AEW will generate about $154 million in net revenue, an increase from $100 million estimated for 2022,” he writes in his report.

Like the WWE does in their reports Thurston broke down AEW’s expenses into media, live events and consumer products.

Media is thought to be 60% of AEW’s total revenue and estimated at $98 million.

“I estimated any given taping of Dynamite or Collision costs about $650,000 per episode to produce. According to Khan (at a press conference in May), WBD is paying AEW more since Collision was added as an additional weekly touring event. At a minimum, I believe WBD is compensating AEW enough to allow the wrestling company to cover substantial costs from the added weekly live event. Therefore, I’m estimating incremental media revenue related to Collision as about $34 million on an annualized basis, prorated for 2023 to $18 million as there will be just 27 episodes this year for the show that debuted in June. That brings the estimated U.S. TV revenue to about $68 million,” he wrote.

Thurston estimates that pay-per-view buys have generated $19.4 million for AEW and will pocket $34 million in ticket sales for the year not counting December’s take.

The total take of product licensing Thurston estimates to be $11.3 million

As far as how much is being shelled out to talent, Thurston says: “I assumed the average talent is paid $450,000 annually. I counted 188 roster members, based on the number of people listed on AEW’s official website. That brings total talent compensation to about $85 million.”

That brings media and event operating expenses at $66 million and the total cost to be just over $188 million for 2023.

“Simply subtracting expenses ($188 million) from revenue ($154 million) gives us EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) of $34 million in losses for the year,” he stated.

“While still likely unprofitable, a doubling in TV rights fees could be enough to make AEW’s business sustainable,” stated Thurston in a post on X.

In this report he expanded upon that thought  by stating:

“Ultimately it probably comes down to whether WBD wants to continue to be in the wrestling business. AEW isn’t a sustainable business unless it gets a sufficient media deal from WBD. Again, that means paying about $140 million per year for AEW throughout the late 2020s. And if they don’t want to continue to be in the wrestling business, what do they program in AEW’s current time slots that the conglomerate views as a preferable strategic option? That answer isn’t clear. AEW’s ratings are down but not so low that it’s clear rerun sitcoms and movies are a better option,” he wrote.