In Demand to Speed Up PPV Reporting

In an effort to provide more timely and accurate pay-per-view accounting results, In Demand will team with Spectralliance to create a transactional clearing house for PPV sales results.

The initiative will help In Demand secure overnight buy information from affiliates to expedite billing and collections reporting for operators and event suppliers, In Demand senior vice president and CFO Sam Yates said.

With help from Spectralliance-a strategic information-technology consultancy-In Demand will be able to design a national clearinghouse for all network movie, event and video-on-demand transactions. Tedious and time-consuming billing procedures will be streamlined to allow for more timely reporting and analysis of movie and event performance.

The clearinghouse would be compatible with all current PPV billing services, he said.

In Demand has taken heat from movie studios and event providers for not collecting buy-rate information and payments on a timely basis.

At present, In Demand relies on operators to fill out a blank invoice to report buys for a particular event or movie. The document goes to In Demand, along with the adequate split payment for the network and the content provider.

"We're putting quite a lot of the burden of getting information on the operators with the more manual accounting," Yates said. "The idea is to get the data as close to the air date as possible."

While the procedure was adequate in a limited PPV-channel environment, Yates said, it's become nearly impossible to get timely results for In Demand's 35-channel near-VOD service.

The network's PPV transaction volume has increased tremendously. An even more dramatic rise is expected from the addition of pro sports out-of-market packages and, eventually, video-on-demand. Often, reports are not completed for six months to a year.

"The largely manual methods of data collection and reporting are no longer appropriate, given the explosion in transaction volume," Yates said. "The new paradigm will affect both the collection of information and the way we communicate performance to suppliers."

Yates said the initiative has support of In Demand's board of directors. He expects the service to roll out to its MSO owners' systems by mid-2001, with the rest of the industry online a year later.

With faster results, Yates believes the industry will eventually be able to attract additional content providers that may have been leery of distributing via PPV, given its record of slow payment.

Current content providers will benefit from knowing how well an event or movie performed more quickly.

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.