New York -- Fleshing out what the industry already knew,
Showtime Networks Inc.'s Showtime Event Television said last week that pay-per-view
event revenue hit a record $206.5 million in the first quarter of 1999.
Driven primarily by boxing and wrestling, the event-revenue
tally was up 171 percent from $76.2 million in the same period in 1998.
Event revenue for all of 1998 totaled $207 million, as the
heavyweight-boxing category suffered the absence of Mike Tyson after his ear-biting
episode with Evander Holyfield in June 1997, and wrestling was still building up steam.
The year before that (1997), PPV-event revenue in the first
quarter was a mere $63.6 million. But for the full year, event revenue added up to a
healthy $400 million. This year, obviously, is on pace to beat that mark.
The first three months of 1999 saw 34 PPV events
distributed, compared with 18 in the same period in 1998 and 19 in 1997.
Traditional ring sports maintained their predominance this
year, SET noted, with 10 boxing events and eight wrestling events. There were also three
music events and 13 events of other types, such as soccer matches and rodeos.
Boxing and wrestling dominated the category, accounting for
$117.6 million (57 percent) and $84.3 million (41 percent) of event revenue, respectively.
The three biggest PPV events in the first three months of
1999 were: Mike Tyson vs. Francois Botha Jan. 16, distributed by SET; Evander Holyfield
vs. Lennox Lewis March 13, from Home Box Office's TVKO; and Wrestlemania XV
March 28, from the World Wrestling Federation.