A young marketing executive stood up at CTAM's
pay-per-view and digital show last month and asked the age-old question that has been
haunting the industry for years; "Why don't we change the PPV name?"
A veteran PPV executive sitting on the dais politely
retorted that she must be new to the industry, because that issue was all but dead and
buried years ago.
Nevertheless, there were many in the audience who probably
wished that the topic would be brought to the forefront again, particularly since the
industry is about to enter a rebirth of sorts with the advent of digital technology.
Many would love to do away with the unfriendly, ugly,
noninviting and just plain dull moniker and replace it with something sexier and more
marketing-savvy. That would certainly attract more than the current total of 20 percent of
cable subscribers who currently pay good money to watch movies, wrestling, boxing,
concerts and other events in the comfort of their own home.
But in reality, the PPV name may initially aid operators in
their quest to get digital boxes in the home. Good or bad, those three letters represent
something tangible and familiar to subscribers. Just as it stands out like a sore thumb in
the analog world for operators, it will stand out as an old, familiar acquaintance in a
crowd of new and unfamiliar services such as high-definition television,
near-video-on-demand, high speed modems and interactive services.
Cable operators talk about how important branding is to
establish some awareness with subscribers. But if you start altering the PPV name, you
will further bewilder consumers who are already scratching their heads over the names of
the different and unfamiliar interactive services that digital technology offers.
It's true that PPV doesn't always conjure up the
most positive images for consumers (for example, Mike Tyson and Howard Stern), and
it's not the sexiest of names. But like it or not, consumers can identify with it.
And there is something to be said about familiarity when you're trying to sell a lot
of new and unproved products.