In Demand Sets PPV Wrestling Series

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The pay-per-view category will add a new player next month, when In Demand LLC officially launches its weekly series of wrestling events.

Called NWA-TNA: Total Nonstop Action, the series will feature stars from the National Wrestling Alliance organization, according to In Demand vice president of programming and development Dan York.

In Demand, along with sports-entertainment company J Sports & Entertainment Inc., will produce and distribute two-hour wrestling shows each Wednesday, beginning June 19. The suggested retail price for each event is $9.95.

Len Sabal, a partner in K-4 LLC — a sports and entertainment consulting firm working with JSE — said the series will showcase such grapplers as Jeff Jarrett, Ken Shamrock, Apolo, Harley Race and A.J. Styles.

In addition, the shows will include female wrestlers, as well as personalities from the worlds of auto racing and music, like Winston Cup points leader Sterling Marlin and country star Toby Keith.

"We recognize that other fan bases, like those for auto sports and Western music, cross over into wrestling, so we'll include celebrities [from those arenas] on an ongoing basis," Sabal said. "This won't be the same old wrestling. This is truly history-making and becomes the poster child for reasonably priced PPV-subscription series."

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In Demand and JSE will look to tap into the lucrative wrestling PPV event market, now dominated by World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. [formerly World Wrestling Federation Entertainment].

Sabal said the demise of both World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling has curtailed the number of PPV wrestling events, not to mention revenue in the category.

"The PPV wrestling business has declined in overall volume, mainly due to the loss of the WCW," Sabal said. "There clearly is a need to fill a market that is under-served, and that's what NWA-TNA is seeking to do."

Unlike WWE and the former WCW, NWA-TNA will attempt to draw PPV buys without the benefit of a broadcast or basic-cable network outlet to help build viewer awareness and story lines.

But Sabal said given the series' low suggested retail price point, it will be able to attract a large enough base of viewers to be successful, although neither he nor York would reveal PPV projections.

"With a 52-week, two-hour show every week we are able to dedicate all effort to the PPV series and not have to divest our resources and burn out our talent with the network shows," Sabal said.

York would not rule out a possible basic-cable presence for the wrestling outfit. With a 52-week guarantee, the series should build awareness, he added.

Along with its Wednesday runs, In Demand will air encores the following Sunday around noon. Repeat telecasts will often serve as a lead-in for In Demand's recently announced "NASCAR In Car on In Demand" interactive-PPV package.

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