Eminem's PPV Debut a Bit Slim

It may not have broken any pay-per-view concert records, but In Demand called its Feb. 17 PPV concert featuring Eminem an artistic and marketing success.

The initial showing of the controversial performer's taped event generated around 40,000 to 50,000 PPV buys, according to the network. But several subsequent telecasts-including one that directly followed last week's Grammy Awards-could yield many more buys for operators, In

Demand senior vice president of programming development and event acquisition Dan York said.

"We have about 45 to 50 replays left and we still have to count digital buys," York said. "We expect that number to rise over the next couple of weeks."

Still, the show failed to approach the record 260,000 buys for a PPV concert set by a 1991 New Kids on the Block performance, according to Showtime Event Television.

The event's strong results came despite a lack of marketing support from a number of MSOs and individual systems, which were concerned about Eminem's controversial lyrics. Many groups have criticized the hot young rap artist for songs that depict violence toward women and homosexuals.

Adelphia Communications Corp., which carried the event after initially saying it would pass it up, did not offer any marketing support. Neither did Cox Communications Inc. systems.

But neither those operators nor In Demand reported complaints from subscribers about the event.

In fact, most operators were pleased with the concert's performance. Though he didn't provide specific buy-rate numbers, Cox San Diego senior product manager Marty Youngman said the concert was the most successful for the system since In Demand's Prince concert on New Year's Eve 1999.

"It's the type of concert that we're looking for," said Youngman. "It was unique and could not be seen anywhere else."

Other operators said media coverage of Eminem's appearance on last week's Grammy Awards helped to drive concert buys. The rapper-who faced protests at the show from women's groups and gay rights activists-performed a duet with openly gay music veteran Elton John.

Eminem took home three Grammys but failed to win the coveted album of the year award. His The Marshall Mathers LP
has sold more than 8 million copies in the U.S. and was named album of the year by Rolling Stone.

For In Demand, the concert was successful on a number of levels, York said. The network was able to generate respectable revenues from a cable-exclusive PPV event while drawing awareness to the category and the In Demand brand.

"The concert provided an alternative for the PPV category and also helped identify the In Demand brand as a home for provocative artists, and should open the door to bring new and compelling events to the category," York said.

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.