The San Antonio Spurs won't be cashing in on theirsuccessful 1998-99 NBA season by moving their games to pay-per-view from basic cable.
After winning the National Basketball Associationchampionship in June, the team, which has distributed playoff games on pay-per-viewthrough Fox Sports Southwest for several years, considered selling games during theregular season on a PPV basis.
But the Spurs decided last month to continue distributingregular-season games on Fox Sports Southwest because the team was concerned that it woulddraw a smaller audience if games were available only on pay-per-view, said Lawrence Payne,senior vice president of broadcasting.
"We are taking somewhat of a risk on the gate bytrying to present the games to as many people as possible," Payne said.
Paul Allen's Portland Trailblazers NBA franchise hasdistributed its regular-season games through a subscription package for 15 years, butremains the only team pursuing the PPV model during the regular season.
Fox Sports Southwest also distributes postseason games onpay-per-view for the Houston Rockets as well as the Spurs. But pay-per-view in the regularseason "is a very difficult sell," said Jon Heidke, Fox Sports Southwest vicepresident and general manager.
Fox and the Spurs drew buys from 8 percent to 12 percent ofthe 90,000 addressable homes in the San Antonio market for the single Spurs game itoffered on pay-per-view last year, Heidke said.
More teams will likely consider moving postseason games topay-per-view as the percentage of addressable homes in cable markets continues toincrease, Heidke predicted. And though it may cost basketball fans more money to seegames, he said subscribers are getting used to the PPV model.
"Early on we used to get a couple of people that feltit was their God-given right to see these games on television. After we've done itfor a couple of years, those types of calls are few and far between,'' Heidkesaid.