Buoyed by the success of the Spice Girls, several
high-profile music performers are exploring revenue opportunities in the pay-per-view
Top acts such as Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs and Phil
Collins are negotiating deals with PPV networks about distribution of major PPV-concert
events sometime in late spring or early summer, said sources close to the situation.
Already on tap is a June event featuring rock 'n' roll
legend Joe Cocker, said Michael Klein, senior vice president of programming for Viewer's
Choice. The taped concert, which will retail for $9.95, will mark Cocker's first televised
appearance in the United States in years.
Also, direct-broadcast satellite provider DirecTv Inc. is
distributing a March 28 PPV concert featuring jazz and classical pianist David Benoit at a
suggested price of $14.95.
Both Viewer's Choice and Request Television are being
pitched other concerts featuring big-name artists, as well, said representatives from both
sides. That's a far cry from just two years ago, when very few concerts passed PPV's
Why the renewed interest in PPV? One recording executive,
who wished to remain anonymous, said the industry is finally beginning to mature. With an
increase in addressable homes and the emergence of DBS services, there are more avenues to
John Rubey, president of Spring Communications, a
PPV-event-distribution and consulting company, said DBS provides high-end sound and
picture quality, along with scheduling flexibility, and cable does not. Cable, however,
allows promoters to reach an artist's fan base more effectively by target-marketing
certain areas of the country.
"Unlike years ago, you can marry the best of both
worlds with satellite and cable," Rubey said.
Music promoters are also beginning to realize that PPV will
not provide a major revenue boon, but instead that it can be used as an ancillary
marketing tool for more lucrative revenue opportunities.
Suzanne Berg, senior vice president of promotion for GRP
Records, which distributes Benoit's recordings and which has developed a joint PPV-concert
promotion with DirecTv, said PPV provides added exposure for the artists. Further, it
gives record companies another avenue to market and distribute new recordings.
"This exposure enables us to reach a whole new
consumer base with a marketing strategy that is more savvy and interesting than most
traditional, in-store-based campaigns," Berg said.
Indeed, several recent PPV events have helped to boost
record sales for artists. Record sales for the Indigo Girls rose 10 percent in the weeks
prior to and after the group's June 7 PPV concert, while catalog sales for the group
jumped 25 percent, despite disappointing PPV-sales numbers, Rubey said.
"We've found that PPV increases the sales of the
artists' albums, as well as providing a lift in ticket sales," Rubey said.
The resurgence of music bodes well for an industry that is
hungry for events due to the paucity of PPV-boxing cards. The success of Showtime Event
Television's Spice Girls show -- which generated more than 130,000 buys -- as well as the
surprisingly strong early returns from the March Country Stars at Rodeo Houston
country-music series has the industry searching for more music-related events. "With
boxing nonexistent up to this point, [Rodeo Houston] is a new breath of fresh
air," said Debbie Barackman, vice president of programming for Request.