Extreme Championship Wrestling's recent equity deal
with video-game distributor Acclaim Entertainment Inc. should help to increase awareness
of the fledgling organization, according to industry executives.
Acclaim will take an undisclosed minority equity interest
in the wrestling organization, which is battling the larger World Championship Wrestling
and World Wrestling Federation for a piece of the multimillion-dollar pay-per-view
As part of the agreement, Acclaim will serve as the
exclusive, long-term interactive-software licensee for ECW, according to representatives
from both companies.
"We are thrilled to secure an equity interest in ECW
and to bring its cutting-edge, over-the-top wrestling to the video-game market,"
Acclaim president and CEO Gregory Fischbach said in a prepared statement. "ECW is at
the forefront of the wrestling craze ECW has all of the ingredients video-game
wrestling fans crave."
Apparently, there's a natural connection between
computer games, wrestling organizations and PPV. Game-maker Electronic Arts and Time
Warner Inc.'s WCW jointly promoted the Nov. 21 WCW Mayhem event and an EA game
with the same name.
For ECW, the deal provides greater awareness of its product
through the marketing and promotion provided by Acclaim.
"Acclaim is the most experienced, creative and
successful interactive-entertainment partner when it comes to producing wrestling
titles," ECW executive producer Paul Hayman said in a prepared statement. "We
are excited to partner with Acclaim -- a company that has sold over 12 million wrestling
games and that has a dedicated internal development team that knows and loves
PPV executives were enthusiastic about Acclaim's stake
in ECW, which, it hopes, will translate into increased buy-rates for the wrestling
organization's six yearly PPV events. ECW currently averages around 70,000 to 75,000
buys per event, which pales in comparison with average six-figure buy numbers for
WCW's and the WWF's monthly PPV events.
The Nashville Network, which distributes a weekly
Friday-night ECW series, also believes the deal will help to increase its ratings. The
show is currently averaging a respectable 1.2 Nielsen Media Research rating since it
debuted three months ago, the network said. More important, the show has increased the
network's male 18-to-34 ratings during the time period by 224 percent.
"Anything that brings ECW to another platform is good
for the television series," a TNN spokeswoman said.
TNN will take a piece of any revenues generated by the
software titles as part of its television deal. The network also receives a significant
portion of other ECW revenue-related activities including PPV, arena events, home video,
magazines, compact-disc compilations, electronic commerce via the organization's Web
site and merchandising.
The first Acclaim ECW video game is scheduled to be
released in February. Acclaim executives said the game will carry a mature rating to
mirror the organization's more edgy content.
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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.