Radio City TV, Viewers Choice Reach Deal

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The famed Radio City Christmas Spectacular will airon pay-per-view next year as part of a multievent agreement reached by Radio City TV andViewer's Choice.

Along with the Christmas show, the deal will includeconcerts and other special events originating from Madison Square Garden and Radio CityMusic Hall that cable operators can sell on an a la carte basis or in a package deal, saidRadio City TV officials.

Radio City TV, owned by Rainbow Media Holdings Inc. --whose parent, Cablevision Systems Corp., controls the Garden and Radio City Music Hall --will distribute as many as four to six events beginning in the fourth quarter of 1999,said David Kline, president of Radio City Television. Operators can either obtain theevents via the traditional PPV event split structure, or they can pay an upfront guaranteeper addressable subscriber to obtain full rights to the event.

Kline wouldn't reveal specific figures, but other sourcesclose to the situation said the guarantees could run between 3 cents to 7 cents persubscriber.

Kline did say that operators could buy the events outrightand offer the shows as an added incentive to attract subscribers to their digitalservices.

"The unique part of this deal is that operators canpay a fee per addressable subscriber and then take the event and give it to thesubscribers as an appreciation gift," Kline said. "This product is designed tobe flexible."

The idea of upfront guarantees, however -- mostly offeredas part of a PPV boxing rate card -- hasn't gone over well with operators in the past.Very few operators have taken the risk of paying a guarantee for fear the event willunderperform. Cablevision, however, has been one of the more aggressive operators, havingsuccessfully paid guarantees for a number of Mike Tyson fights.

Due to the potentially low per-subscriber guarantee levels,Kline said that he expects many operators to take advantage of the offer.

"I think some operators will use the events as a freeoffer to help sell digital boxes into the home," he said.

Michael Klein, senior vice president of programming forViewer's Choice, said the Radio City events would help expand the events category.

"Viewer's Choice is always interested in qualityprogramming and events that will expand the reach of PPV," he said.

Suggested retail prices for the events will range between$4.95 and $19.95, although Kline would not speculate how much the Christmas Spectacularwould cost. He added Radio City TV will look at all events, from music to sports to stageshows, for potential PPV distribution.

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