In a surprise move, Cablevision Systems Corp. last week
became the first MSO to spurn Viewer's Choice in favor of TVN Entertainment Corp. for
control of its analog-PPV business beginning in July.
But while Cablevision will move its more than 2 million
addressable subscribers from the soon-to-be-defunct Request Television to TVN,
Viewer's Choice will inevitably serve the lion's share of analog-PPV
distribution. Request will shut its doors June 30.
TVN will offer as many as eight PPV channels to Cablevision
systems representing more than 2 million addressable households, TVN said. TVN announced
several weeks ago that it would add three analog-PPV channels to its 32-channel,
near-video-on-demand digital operation in order to serve former Request affiliates, but
Cablevision can convert several of TVN's other digital services for analog
"Cablevision can basically take any of the channels
for analog distribution," said David Sears, TVN's senior vice president of
affiliate sales and marketing. "We're pleased that Cablevision has elected to
take advantage of the flexible, responsive PPV services that TVN provides."
The deal, however, does not include Cablevision's
150,000-subscriber Boston system, which offers more than 10 stand-alone PPV channels.
"From a programming standpoint and from a deal
standpoint, this was absolutely the right option for Cablevision," said Mac Budill,
the MSO's vice president and director of programming, although he would not reveal
specific licensing deals. "We spent a lot of time evaluating our options, and we
found that TVN could fulfill our [PPV] needs as of July 1."
Cablevision is the first major MSO not to sign with
Viewer's Choice to handle its PPV operations after Request announced that it was
shutting down. At the time, Viewer's Choice seemed to be the most logical choice to
provide PPV programming and marketing support going forward for former Request affiliates.
But once TVN announced its analog plans, several MSOs decided to take a closer look at the
company before pledging their allegiance to Viewer's Choice.
In fact, several major Request affiliates, such as Jones
Intercable Inc. and Adelphia Communications Corp., have yet to make decisions on their PPV
future, even though they risk missing critical operational deadlines that could lead to a
loss of PPV programming in July.
Representatives from Jones and Adelphia did not return
phone calls by press time.
Viewer's Choice is confident that it will be able to
reach deals with the remaining Request affiliates by July. The network already has more
than 80 percent of addressable households secured through deals with its MSO owners --
Tele-Communications Inc., Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc., MediaOne and Time Warner
It is also holding hope for a potential deal with
Cablevision in the future.
"We would love to provide our services to Cablevision.
They're a terrific company, and we will continue to try to persuade them to become
affiliates of Viewer's Choice," said Joe Boyle, vice president of corporate
communications for Viewer's Choice.
But the network may have an uphill battle. Cablevision,
which has never been afraid to tread new ground in its approach to PPV, may look to offer
PPV on a stand-alone basis once it moves to a digital format, according to sources close
to the situation.
Budill would not comment on any of the MSO's potential