Adelphia Communications Corp.'s recent cable
acquisitions have some adult pay-per-view executives concerned about the potential loss of
subscribers, given that MSO's anti-adult-PPV stance.
Both Playboy Entertainment Group Inc. and New Frontier
Media Inc. are hoping that Adelphia, which doesn't carry any adult-PPV services, will
retain their adult networks on the former Harron Communications Corp., FrontierVision
Partners L.P. and Century Communications Corp. systems it is taking over.
Neither Playboy nor FrontierVision would reveal how many
actual adult-PPV subscribers the three MSOs currently have among their more than 2 million
combined subscribers. Sources close to the situation said all three combined generate a
fair amount of PPV business for the programmers.
Harron systems, for example, average around a 10 percent
monthly adult-PPV buy-rate -- slightly higher than the operator's take for all of its
Viewer's Choice channels, although most of the MSO's systems average three to
five PPV channels, MSO executives said.
Overall, the adult business generates between 30 percent
and as much as 50 percent of systems' PPV revenue.
Last year, the category generated about $310 million --
well above the $241 million generated by the PPV-movie category -- according to Showtime
Event Television figures.
Yet Adelphia historically has not offered adult-PPV
programming to its more than 2.3 million subscribers, despite the category's revenue
Both Playboy (which offers Playboy TV, Spice and Spice 2)
and New Frontier (which offers The Erotic Network and Pleasure) are concerned that the
MSO's adult-PPV philosophy will carry over to its new acquisitions.
"Adelphia has indicated in the past that they would
cancel adult services from systems that they acquire," Playboy Networks Worldwide
president Jim English said. "They're going to do what they want to do, but
I'm hoping that they will allow the public to continue to receive the programming
that it's gotten used to."
"We would assume that [MSOs] will look at the current
channel lineup and determine the appropriateness of specific channels," said Ken
Boenish, senior vice president of affiliate sales for New Frontier.
Representatives from Adelphia could not be reached for
comment at press time.
Harron, which recently launched TEN in several systems,
said it plans to continue offering adult-PPV product until told otherwise.
"Once Adelphia takes over, they will determine what
happens [with adult PPV]," Harron vice president of public affairs Linda Stuchell
said. "If it happens, we'll adjust and do what we have to do."
Representatives from Century and FrontierVision could not
be reached for comment at press time.
English said that if Adelphia does decide to remove
adult-PPV services from the three MSOs, it risks not only losing the adult-PPV revenue the
systems were generating, but potentially subscribers who may look for adult programming on
direct-broadcast satellite services.
"Those who are big adult-PPV viewers will go to the
local electronics store and buy a dish to get the programming they want," English
said. "We'll pick up the revenue that they will lose on the other side."
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.
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