In Demand's Events Get Two Channels

Seeking to boost the pay-per-view event category, In Demand will convert its two highest-penetrated PPV channels to 24-hour event-only outlets beginning Sept. 1.

In Demand's channels 1 and 2 — which currently feature about 90% movie product and 10% events — will only offer sports, concert and special programming events from outside distributors and In Demand-produced shows, network senior vice president of programming and development Dan York said.

The two channels are In Demand's best-distributed outlets, reaching 27 million households. Despite wider distribution of PPV technology over the past three years, PPV event revenue have failed to approach the record $486 million generated in 1999. Last year PPV events generated $363 million, 90% from boxing and wrestling events.

Meets needs

Yet York said that on In Demand 1 and 2, PPV events, despite only representing 10% of the content output, rake in more than 90% of all revenue.

Operators are accelerating video-on-demand rollouts and offering more movie titles via VOD file servers, so In Demand doesn't need a full complement of 30 digital channel-based movie channels so much anymore.

But one Hollywood industry executive expressed some concern about the loss of shelf space from In Demand's digital channels. He added, though, the move could lead to an increase in homes offering VOD, which typically generates nearly twice the buys of traditional PPV.

York said operators have asked for more opportunities to generate incremental revenue from the PPV event category. He declined to provide specific revenue projections related to the move, but sources close to the situation said the full-time PPV event channels could provide a one-third revenue increase over what the two channels currently deliver.

York said that In Demand 1 would premiere most of the major PPV events each month, including marquee boxing and wrestling events. In Demand 2 will be oriented toward all-day viewing of PPV events.

"We'll also look to find targeted days of the week for different programs" for In Demand 2, added York.

The two event channels could also accommodate more replays of top-flight events, which could provide additional revenue to both event suppliers and operators.

In Demand will also acquire and produce niche and non-traditional PPV event programming to attract new audiences to the channel. Along with more niche sports events like soccer and rugby, York said the company is looking to develop a series of comedy shows.

In Demand is also contemplating distributing exclusive, made-for PPV shows featuring "uncensored reality" programming, although he would not reveal whether the programming would come from existing reality skeins currently airing on broadcast or cable television.

In Demand currently is offering uncensored episodes of Universal Television's syndicated reality series Blind Date. Last year, it offered uncut episodes of The Jerry Springer Show.

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.