It only took six months for the pay-per-view events
category to beat last year's total sales, generating more than $267 million on the
back of boxing and wrestling events, according to Showtime Event Television figures.
But while the category is having a stellar year, SET
executives are concerned that the industry is still too dependent on boxing and wrestling,
and that it needs to develop other franchises to remain vibrant.
The $267 million is 11 percent more than the $241 million
total that was generated last year and more than double the $125 million the category
generated in the first half of 1998.
The boxing and wrestling genres continued to represent the
lion's share of PPV revenue, with $120 million and $140 million, respectively.
Collectively, boxing and wrestling represented approximately 98 percent of PPV-event
revenue generated from January through June 1999.
With at least three major boxing events still to come -- a
Sept. 18 Oscar De La Hoya-Felix Trinidad bout, a proposed Nov. 13 Evander Holyfield-Lennox
Lewis rematch and a proposed December Mike Tyson fight -- as well as at least eight major
wrestling events scheduled, the prospects for even more revenue are great.
"These record-setting numbers clearly prove that the
pay-per-view industry is strong and healthy, and that the enormous interest in boxing and
wrestling continues to drive the category," SET executive vice president and general
manager Mark Greenberg said.
Yet despite the category's strong 1999 performance,
Greenberg said, the industry still falls short when it comes to developing new and
exclusive PPV-event franchises. The industry has been unsuccessful in developing other
event genres with the exception of PPV concerts, and that category has produced more
misses than hits.
Greenberg said the industry needs to nurture more niches to
expand the category. "I'm still bullish on the other categories, but right now,
people aren't willing to invest, market and build those events," he added.
"But we feel that this success suggests that there is an opportunity to achieve
greater results through the development of a wider array of special-event
Greenberg also said the event category would continue to be
a major PPV-revenue source even with the uncertain future surrounding the movie category.
"It will be interesting to see how PPV movies will
perform, particularly with competition from [electronic video recorder] TiVo [Inc.] and
other alternative delivery technologies," Greenberg said. "The event business
could become an even more proprietary franchise for PPV."
According to the study, revenue generated by
first-half-1999 PPV-boxing events ($120 million) represented a 715 percent increase over
the same period in 1998 ($15 million).
Wrestling represented more than 53 percent of the revenue
for the entire PPV-event business, and it eclipsed last year's wrestling revenue for
the same period by 47 percent ($95 million).
Concerts generated $4.2 million from seven events, versus
$5 million from nine events last year.
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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