No Sticky Wicket for This Op

Author:
Publish date:
Updated on

While the sport of cricket may be foreign to most cable
operators, it serves as a significant pay-per-view revenue source for at least one
mid-Atlantic cable system.

Media General Cable, of Fairfax, Va., is hoping to generate
upward of $40,000 from its exclusive distribution of the monthlong Cricket World Cup
tournament, running from mid-May through June 20.

The system is the only cable operator offering the 42-match
tournament, Media General PPV manager Ted Hodgins said. In fact, Media General will also
have a leg up on its fiercest competitors: Neither DirecTV Inc. nor U.S. Satellite
Broadcasting will offer the matches.

One reason why many distributors have passed on the
tournament could be the event's difficult schedule. The games -- which can run as
long as nine hours -- begin at 4:45 a.m. each day, with two games often occurring at the
same time.

But with two stand-alone event channels, Hodgins feels the
system can handle the rigorous schedule.

"We're not really pre-empting any event
programming during that time, so it won't cause us any major problems," he said.
"The movie revenue we would generate during that time can't make up the
[cricket] revenue."

Indeed, cricket events typically represent about 2 percent
to 3 percent of the system's overall revenue, Hodgins said.

With the system serving a widely diverse subscriber base --
including many international diplomats, due to its close proximity to Washington, D.C. --
cricket has become a major attraction for its subscribers.

The system already has close to 50 orders for its full
tournament package, which retails for $299.95. It also offers several other packages,
including a $199.95 package for the final 12 games or a $129.95 deal for the semifinal and
final games.

Media General will also sell games on an individual basis,
with prices increasing throughout the tournament rounds. Preliminary matches will retail
for $29.95, while the semifinals and final matches will cost $44.95 and $49.95,
respectively.

Related