Skip to main content

Backstreet Boys Event Posts Surprising Buys

Move over, Spice Girls: Buys from Showtime Event
Television's Feb. 6 pay-per-view concert featuring teen male pop group Backstreet
Boys will most likely surpass those from the successful 1998 Spice Girls event.

Preliminary buy numbers show that the Backstreet Boys will
draw about 150,000 buys after several replays of the concert are completed, said Jay
Larkin, senior vice president, of Showtime's sports- and event-programming division.
SET's Spice Girls show drew a surprising 135,000 buys.

"We caught the Spice Girls at the crest of their
popularity, and the operators didn't get behind it. At the time, they believed the
old wives' tale that concerts didn't work," Larkin said. "This time,
the operators marketed this event and proved that concerts can work if they are

Comcast Corp.'s Sacramento, Calif., system generated
about 611 buys for the event's initial play, but it hopes to draw enough business
with the replays to reach nearly 1,200 buys, surpassing the Spice Girls, said Cindy
Caverly, PPV and marketing coordinator for the system.

Marty Youngman, senior product manager for Cox
Communications Inc. in San Diego, also said the event will probably outdo the Spice
Girls' performance once the replays are complete, although he would not reveal
specific buy-rates.

While the Backstreet Boys appeal to the same teen-age girls
audience that made the Spice Girls popular, Larkin said, the event would not have been a
success had it not been for the cooperation of both the group and the cable operators.

The group especially helped in the marketing and promotion
of the event, mentioning the show during interviews and participating in the promotional

Other Showtime sister companies -- such as MTV: Music
Television and Blockbuster Video -- also helped to boost the concert, Larkin added.

Although the event was taped, and it was the last show in
the group's multicity tour, it still performed well, leading promoters to insist that
music can sell if it is marketed correctly.

"It's really how you market the event; you can
sell any music event as long as the operators get behind it," said Jock McLean, vice
president of programming for Showtime. "The common denominator for all of the
successful events is awareness."

SET was also able to work out a revenue-sharing agreement
with the group to avoid paying high upfront guarantees.

"In the past, talent has come in with outrageous
upfront demands, but here, we talked about varying degrees of profit, rather than pure
profit and losses," Larkin said.