Hoping to capitalize on the success of the San Antonio
Spurs basketball franchise, Fox Sports Southwest is distributing the team's home playoff
games on pay-per-view beyond the local-market cable system.
Fox, which holds the rights to Spurs PPV playoff games for
the first time, will distribute the games to several AT&T Broadband & Internet
Systems (formerly Tele-Communications Inc.) systems within the San Antonio market, network
Although Fox Sports has distributed Spurs games on basic
cable since the 1987-88 season, these are the first playoff PPV telecasts offered to
systems in the outer markets of San Antonio. Paragon Cable of San Antonio had offered the
postseason games exclusively for several years.
"Tele-Communications Inc. serves a lot of bedroom
communities within a 35-mile radius that will now have access to the games," said
Spurs senior vice president of broadcasting Lawrence Payne.
Fox will offer, via PPV, each Spurs home game not telecast
by NBC. The over-the-air network was expected to distribute two games last week, and could
offer as many as six if the Spurs advance to the Western Conference finals.
Unlike previous years, when Paragon raised PPV prices for
each playoff round, Fox and the Spurs will maintain a $24.95 price throughout the
postseason, Payne said.
With a potentially wider distribution base and the strong
play of the Spurs, which finished with the best regular-season record in the National
Basketball Association, Payne is hopeful PPV revenue from the games could approach record
numbers. "I'm optimistic, but we'll have to see what happens," he said.
Fox Sports Southwest general manager Jon Heitdke also said
the Spurs' playoff run could be very lucrative for the network, the team and operators.
"The way the team finished the season, and with it being the only professional sports
team in town, it could be one of the most successful years for the team on PPV," he
Although Fox and the Spurs did not offer regular season PPV
games this year mostly due to the players' strike, which shortened the season
Payne said it's possible the team could offer PPV games next year.
Except for the Portland Trailblazers and the Houston
Rockets, which are both distributing playoff games this year on PPV, United States-based
professional teams have never offered pay-per-view or have dropped such telecasts over the
past three years in favor of distribution via regional sports networks.
"Until we've seen the schedule, we won't make any
decisions," Payne said. "We've had some form of PPV since the mid 1980's, so
it's certainly an option we'll consider."