Back To The Future For PPV Events

This past Saturday featured two pay-per-view events that could help set the stage for an interesting 2015 in the PPV event category.

First, boxing champion Manny Pacquiao’s destruction of game but overmatched Chris Algieri has all but set the stage for a potential mega matchup between Pacquiao and the reigning pound-for-pound PPV champion Floyd Mayweather. The two fighters are arguably the biggest attractions in PPV boxing today, but neither fighter is getting any younger. The window of opportunity is shrinking for the 35-year old Pacquiao and the 37-year old Mayweather to mix it up while their skills are still intact and their appeal to boxing fans remains strong.

While there are attractive opponents for both fighters, no other bout could match the potential PPV revenue that a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight could generate. Published reports recently quoted Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum as saying that talks have already begun to make the fight, which could set all PPV buy and revenue records.

For boxing fans, let’s hope 2015 is finally the year for Pacquiao-Mayweather.  

Another PPV event debuting that night with much less fanfare was the Lauryn Hill Live From Brooklyn Bowl concert, featuring one of the most popular female R&B/hip-hop artists over the past two decades.

The multi-Grammy winning Hill, who over the years has had her ups and downs but still has wide appeal within the urban music community, could bring with her to PPV a new generation of music fans that may not remember when music concerts drove the PPV category along with boxing and wrestling events during the 1990s. PPV music shows from the Rolling Stones, New Kids On The Block, Backstreet Boys, The Judds and others represented 15% of all PPV events and nearly $100 million in revenue during that decade, behind only boxing and wrestling.

The explosion of the Internet over the last two decades and the proliferation of free concert videos on websites like Youtube have all but silenced the PPV music category. Yet there may be room for special and unique performances like the Hill concert that could push young, urban music fans to pick up the remote and purchase a PPV music show.

Lauryn Hill fans who watched Pacquiao-Algieri live on Saturday night can still catch L Boogie’s performance via video on demand (VOD) or PPV for several more weeks.

PPV event distributors were pleasantly surprised by a 2012 Steve Harvey stand-up comedy concert that drew significantly more on demand purchases than expected in the weeks after it premiered. If Ms. Hill can do the same thing with her music concert, it may encourage other music performers to take a second look at the PPV category as a potentially viable distribution platform. 

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.