What do comedy, boxing and the Rolling Stones have in common?
They are all part of the latest string of events to set the stage for a potentially strong category finish to 2012, according to Bob Benya, president and CEO of In Demand.
“There are a lot of good things happening in the PPV events category,” he said.
The Dec. 15 Rolling Stones concert event — to be distributed by WWE — marks the first major PPV appearance by a top music act since an Usher concert in 2004, and the first pay-per-view appearance by the Stones since the late 1990s. The PPV event category has been dominated by boxing, wrestling and mixed martial arts, as smaller concert and comedy events have struggled to draw interest from consumers.
But the success of an Aug. 2 comedy show has executives encouraged that non-sports programming can once again drive buys. Steve Harvey’s Grand Stand-Up Finale bucked trends, garnering buys 15% to 20% better than comedy events over the past few years, Benya said.
Harvey’s aggressive marketing of the event, including heavy promotion via social media and numerous mentions on his syndicated morning show, has created an outline for successful PPV-event marketing, Benya said.
Even the bigger, more-lucrative categories, like boxing and wrestling, have pinned down strong buy performances in recent months. The Aug. 19 WWE SummerSlam, fueled by the appearance of former UFC champion Brock Lesnar, delivered 30% more buys than the same event in 2011, according to Benya.
HBO’s Sept. 15 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.- Sergio Martinez bout — in which Martinez survived a 12th-round knockdown to win a decision — exceeded expectations in drawing more than 475,000 PPV buys.
Benya said he’s optimistic that the ring-sports category will continue to generate big PPV numbers over the next three months, with multiple events from the WWE and the UFC. He also pointed to the Dec. 8 PPV Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Martinez fight as one of the most anticipated events for the category.
“We are seeing several emerging PPV stars, including Saul Alvarez, Sergio Martinez, Chavez and [Miguel] Cotto ,” he said. “We feel that we have a good thing going, with boxing coming up soon.”