Stones Roll to PPV Satisfaction

The Rolling Stones’ Dec. 15 pay-per-view concert served up some performance satisfaction for cable and satellite distributors, who hope the event will usher in similar non-sports pay events in 2013.

While cable operators and event distributor WWE said it was too early to provide specific buy-rate and revenue projections for the concert, industry executives said the concert revenue was pacing above expectations despite a crowded December PPV event schedule that featured a Dec. 1 Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight and the WWE’s own Tables, Ladders and Chairs wrestling event on Dec. 16.

A successful, non-sports event typically generates anywhere from 50,000 to 200,000 buys. In the 1990s, music, comedy and other entertainment-themed events were strong pay-per-view performers: A 1990 New Kids on the Block performance drew 275,000 buys, and a 1991 concert by The Judds generated 232,000 buys.

But the emergence of YouTube and other alternative distribution platforms offering free comedy show clips and live concert footage grounded the category.

An In Demand executive said the PPV event aggregation company was “pleased” with the preliminary returns for the Stones concert. The early numbers were encouraging given that the event was the last of a well-publicized, five-concert, 50th-anniversary tour. The Stones also performed two songs on free TV three days earlier as part of the “12-12-12” concert for Sandy relief at Madison Square Garden.

DirecTV officials described the concert as “moderately successful” compared to recent non-sports PPV events. The satellite distributor added that it hopes the Stones concert will stimulate more opportunities in the music and entertainment PPV space in 2013.

Within PPV circles people are already talking about a potential spring concert event featuring hip-hop performer Snoop Dogg, as well as a potential event surrounding former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson’s one-man Broadway 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.