President Clinton's recent actions are not only good
business for news channels, but also for pay-per-view.
Buoyed by recent events in Washington, D.C., operators
reported an explosion in buys for New Line Cinema's Wag the Dog -- a movie
with a premise that coincidentally mirrors Clinton's recent personal and political
Early preliminary numbers showed that buys for Wag the
Dog -- which depicts the creation of a bogus war to divert attention away from a
president's sexual misconduct -- increased significantly during the week of Aug. 17.
During that week, President Clinton admitted having a
sexual affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky and, days later, he ordered
military strikes at suspected terrorist sites in Sudan and Afghanistan in retaliation for
U.S. embassy bombings in Africa earlier this month.
Buys for Wag the Dog in Media General Cable's
system in Fairfax, Va., outside of Washington, D.C., are up 97 percent since the week of
Aug. 17, said Ted Hodgins, manager of PPV for the system.
"The Clinton phenomena has crossed over into the PPV
business," Hodgins added.
Some operators took full advantage of a unique marketing
opportunity. Eric Lardy, marketing assistant for Cable One of Fargo, N.D., said his system
offered 60 free PPV coupons on several radio stations during the week to push the film.
While Lardy said it was too early to determine if buys
increased, he added that the system has received more telephone inquiries about the movie.
"It's been great. The CSRs [customer-service
representatives] have seen the impact [in increased orders]," Lardy said.
"We're anticipating a high buy-rate for the movie."
Overall, Viewer's Choice is reporting buy-rates from
many of its affiliates topping all expectations for the film -- in some cases actually
tripling buys from the premiere date. The network, however, said it was too early to be
The movie has a PPV window that runs through Sept. 30,
although it's unclear whether Viewer's Choice or operators will increase plays
for the movie if it continues to perform well.