In Demand: Sports Will Drive Buys

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In Demand in 2012 will look to build on the
success it generated this year in offering non-ring-sports
pay-per-view events to targeted sports fans.

While events from boxing, pro wrestling and UFC events
continued to dominate the PPV event landscape in 2011
both in terms of revenue and buy-rates — final PPV numbers
for the ring sports category weren’t available at press
time — the event aggregation company expanded its PPV
event lineup to include more internationally-distributed
sports events.

The company — co-owned by Comcast, Time Warner Cable,
Cox and Bright House Networks, which distributes ondemand
content to most U.S. cable operators — for the first
time offered several live international soccer tournament
events via PPV and offered more Rugby World Cup tournament
games this year, according to In Demand senior
vice president of programming and business development
Mark Boccardi.

Overall, In Demand offered 163 live events in 2011, more
than double the 71 offered in 2010, according to the network.

“Over the past two years, it’s been relatively consistent
[with PPV ring sports], but as we look at the TV audience
there are many big pockets that aren’t being served,” Boccardi
said. “Our approach going into 2011 was to serve the
underserved.”

While he would not reveal specifi c PPV buy-rates or revenue
numbers for the new events — which included South
American and Central American World Cup soccer qualifiers, Asia Cup Soccer and the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup —
Boccardi said he was satisfied with the audience response
to the events and will look to offer more in the future. He
added the events don’t have to generate the PPV revenue
or buy returns of a marquee boxing card or even a monthly
WWE event to be successful.

“One of the categories that helped us serve the underserved
is international sports and that’s rich with opportunities.
We were happy with the types of coverage we got for
these events — whether it is on various websites targeting
these sports or social media sites,” Boccardi said. “For the
people who follow this type of content, it was very important
to them, and if it performs very strong within those
communities, it’s a home run for us.”

Boccardi said In Demand will look to work with event
distributors to create PPV-exclusive events such as its
April Professional Bull Riders: Last Cowboy Standing
event. The show, in which the 40 top bull riders competed
in an elimination tournament for a top prize of $200,000,
was a success from an overall performance standpoint for
In Demand, although Boccardi would not reveal specific
figures.

Boccardi said the network will look to bring the event
back, as well as other potential PBR shows, in 2012. “We
were very happy with the buzz and the results of it, so we
will look to engage with them next year,” he said.

Another category the company will look to explore in
2012 is music. Boccardi said the category is challenging
for PPV, given that consumers can see music programming
often free or for low cost on the Web and other distribution
outlets, but he hopes to re-engage with labels and
producers to potentially develop special event concerts exclusive
to PPV.

“I do believe that there are the right opportunities to
do something — maybe a concert that has some spin or
peg to it will do well,” he said. “Just doing a concert for the
sake of doing a concert, to me, doesn’t necessarily have a
merit to it.”

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