A former employee of Time Warner Cable's New York City system has returned to his cable roots to launch a stand-alone adult pay-per-view network.
The Pay-Per-View Adult Network (PAN) is the brainchild of Daniel Beck. In the mid-1980s, Beck screened content to be aired on local cable access channels on systems now owned by Time Warner in New York.
The independently financed, 24-hour service offers soft-core adult movies to the system's approximately 200,000 digital-cable subscribers, in direct competition with the mainstay adult services — Playboy TV and Spice from Playboy Entertainment Group and New Frontier Media's Pleasure.
Unlike other adult PPV channels, which offer two-hour blocks on a PPV basis for $6.95, Beck said that price buys four hours of movies and short adult segments from his service. He also offers a video barker channel to preview upcoming shows.
Time Warner spokeswoman Harriet Novet said PAN's unique pricing and packaging structure — plus Beck's prior relationship with the company — convinced the MSO to add the service.
"Part of the beauty of having a digital tier is that you can take a chance on something that's different," Novet said.
Beck hopes to carve out a small piece of the lucrative adult PPV business. Time Warner would not reveal its annual adult PPV revenue take, but nationally the segment generated $545 million in 2001 — supplanting events as the second-biggest PPV revenue category behind movies, according to Showtime Event Television's annual pay-per-view report.
Beck would not reveal Time Warner's revenue take per buy, but did say that the MSO's splits with PAN "are substantially better" than that of other adult services.
Beck will seek additional revenue by offering advertising spots within its programming blocks. The network offers eight, 30-second avails within a four-hour block, targeted mostly to adult business who don't have many advertising options in traditional print and on-air outlets.
The advertising is not intrusive as it appears between features, Beck said.
Beck eventually hopes to launch a Internet-based video-on-demand service for the network as well as more explicit versions of PAN, both for cable and the Internet.
He said he's talking to other MSOs about launching the adult service.
But he's already had difficult dealings with another local MSO concerning adult programming. Last March, Beck won a breach of contract lawsuit against Cablevision Systems Corp.'s Woodbury, N.Y., system after it refused to air a Beck-produced local-access show that consisted of adult movies and phone-sex ads.
Cablevision claimed that Beck's show, T&A, could not run ads for 800- and 900-number based telephone services, according to court papers. Cablevision finally said it would not air the channel because it contained "obscenity, indecency or nudity," despite taking more than $4,000 from Beck to air the programming.
But U.S. Judge Thomas Platt determined the show was not indecent and did not violate federal law.
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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.