The San Antonio Spurs won't be cashing in on their
successful 1998-99 NBA season by moving their games to pay-per-view from basic cable.
After winning the National Basketball Association
championship in June, the team, which has distributed playoff games on pay-per-view
through Fox Sports Southwest for several years, considered selling games during the
regular season on a PPV basis.
But the Spurs decided last month to continue distributing
regular-season games on Fox Sports Southwest because the team was concerned that it would
draw 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 by
trying to present the games to as many people as possible," Payne said.
Paul Allen's Portland Trailblazers NBA franchise has
distributed its regular-season games through a subscription package for 15 years, but
remains the only team pursuing the PPV model during the regular season.
Fox Sports Southwest also distributes postseason games on
pay-per-view for the Houston Rockets as well as the Spurs. But pay-per-view in the regular
season "is a very difficult sell," said Jon Heidke, Fox Sports Southwest vice
president and general manager.
Fox and the Spurs drew buys from 8 percent to 12 percent of
the 90,000 addressable homes in the San Antonio market for the single Spurs game it
offered on pay-per-view last year, Heidke said.
More teams will likely consider moving postseason games to
pay-per-view as the percentage of addressable homes in cable markets continues to
increase, Heidke predicted. And though it may cost basketball fans more money to see
games, he said subscribers are getting used to the PPV model.
"Early on we used to get a couple of people that felt
it was their God-given right to see these games on television. After we've done it
for a couple of years, those types of calls are few and far between,'' Heidke