New York -- Pay-per-view event revenue jumped 88 percent
during the third quarter, but some distributors said the industry needs to expand beyond
its core boxing and wrestling stable in order to maintain the momentum.
New categories that Showtime Event Television and other
distributors are exploring include golf, auto racing and even theater and ballet
"We're good at what we're good at, but the
question is: How do we diversify?" SET executive vice president and general manager
Mark Greenberg said.
Led by strong boxing and wrestling buy-rates, PPV events
generated $126 million in revenue industrywide during the third quarter, according to SET
estimates. Event revenue increased 88 percent from the $67 million generated during the
same period in 1998, and 90 percent from the $66 million generated during the third
quarter of 1997.
Greenberg said he's optimistic about the music genre,
which jumped 315 percent from the third quarter of 1998 to $7.9 million in revenue. Led by
the Woodstock '99 event, the music category saw the biggest year-to-year gains of all
Boxing remained the top genre for the quarter, generating
$64 million in revenue, up 159 percent from the same time last year. TVKO's Sept. 18
Oscar De La Hoya-Felix Trinidad bout was the most popular event of the quarter, generating
1.25 million buys.
Three World Wrestling Federation events rounded out the top
four PPV events of the quarter. Overall wrestling-event revenue jumped to $52 million for
the third quarter, up from $37 million during the same time in 1998.
While Greenberg said it was important to diversify into new
genres, he emphasized that SET and other PPV distributors shouldn't "cannibalize
He cited TVKO's Nov. 13 Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis
fight as an example. Greenberg said SET announced in June that it would run a Championship
Auto Racing Teams event Nov. 13, but it was forced to scrap the event when TVKO later said
it would run the long-anticipated Holyfield-Lewis rematch on the same date. "It made
it impossible for us to put on a new event," Greenberg said.
SET will explore running new National Association for Stock
Car Auto Racing or CART events in the future, Greenberg said, suggesting that a $19.95
retail price would be appropriate for racing events.
Greenberg and Viewer's Choice president Mindy Herman
both said they're interested in distributing golf events on PPV.
ABC recently ran a primetime match between top golfers
Tiger Woods and David Duval -- an event Greenberg said he would've liked to have on
Greenberg added that he pitched a PPV match involving Tiger
Woods and Greg Norman to the golfers' agents in 1997.
International Marketing Group approached SET about running
the Woods-Duval match on PPV, but Greenberg said there wasn't enough time to
"make it into a reality." "I feel a little badly that they took our idea
and ran it and took it to broadcast," Greenberg said.
Herman said a good lineup for a golf PPV event would be a
match featuring two popular golfers from the new generation of pros -- Tiger Woods and
Spaniard Sergio Garcia -- paired up with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, two of the most
popular golfers of all time.
The Viewer's Choice head also stressed that it's
important to expand beyond boxing and wrestling events. "For the long-term best
interest of our business, it's important to build other viable, predictable
categories," she added.
Meanwhile, Greenberg lauded the Nevada State Athletic
Commission's recent decision to award Mike Tyson his purse from his controversial
fight against Orlin Norris, which was ruled a no contest after Tyson knocked Norris to the
canvas following the first-round bell.
"We would have loved for it to be a great fight.
We're sorry [Norris] got hurt," Greenberg said.
Is Showtime wearing thin from Tyson's ring antics,
including the Evander Holyfield ear-biting incident? "I'm not here to be judge
and jury. My job as a programmer is to find compelling programming that people want to
see," Greenberg responded.
Showtime doesn't know who Tyson's next opponent
will be, when the fight will occur, or whether the fight will be on Showtime's
premium-cable channel or distributed through PPV, Greenberg said.
SET is looking at three contingencies, which could see
Tyson fight as early as December or as late as February, he added.
SET hasn't ruled out a Tyson-Norris rematch, but it
appears unlikely. "I'm not so sure there will be a rematch. It's time for
Mike to move on to a bigger and better fight," Greenberg said.