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PPV-Event Ratings Declined in Quarter

Due to a paucity of pay-per-view events, the PPV industry generated only $61.5 million during the first quarter of 2000, a marked decline from last year's $206.5 million haul, according to Showtime Event Television figures.

The 70 percent drop-off in event revenue was due primarily to a lack of high-profile PPV boxing matches and the loss of the World Wrestling Federation's Wrestlemania, which is typically the first quarter's most successful PPV offering, SET said. This year that grappling event fell in the second quarter.

The first three months featured only nine wrestling and boxing events, which represented about 77 percent ($47.7 million) and 15 percent ($9.2 million) of overall quarter event revenue, respectively.

Last year, operators distributed 10 boxing cards and eight wrestling events, including such marquee fights as Mike Tyson vs. Frans Botha, Oscar De La Hoya vs. Ike Quartey and Evander Holyfield vs. Lennox Lewis.

Only 27 PPV events were distributed overall, compared with 34 for the same period in 1999. Along with the nine wrestling or boxing shows, there were two music events and 14 programs in the "other" category.

"There is clearly a lack of product being delivered by suppliers to the marketplace, which has created uncertainty in the current pay-per-view environment," SET Pay Per View executive vice president and general manager Mark Greenberg said. "Without mid-range and high-profile boxing events featuring Mike Tyson or wrestling's perennial leader, Wrestlemania, the record pace of event revenue generated by the PPV industry last year simply could not be maintained.

"When new product begins to flow into the marketplace, PPV event revenue will experience another resurgence," he said.

In Demand vice president of programming, development and event acquisition Dan York said the event category should pick up through the rest of the year.

"With a Tyson, a De La Hoya and a Holyfield-Lewis mega fight in the first quarter of 1999, it would be virtually impossible to replicate that every year," York said. "Nevertheless, we expect 2000 to be an adequate year on the event side, with possibly two De La Hoya fights, at least one Tyson bout and another Holyfield or Lewis fight expected."

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.