Showtime Networks Inc. may look to further maximize
awareness of and revenue from pay TV and pay-per-view fights through the Internet after
reviewing the results of this past Saturday's (Oct. 23) Mike Tyson-Orlin Norris
As the number of households with high-speed modems
continues to increase with the advent of digital technology -- allowing Internet users to
view live events in real-time -- event distributors such as Showtime will look to tap the
potential of the Internet as an ancillary revenue stream.
The network, for example, distributed the Tyson-Norris bout
-- Showtime pay TV's first live Tyson telecast -- to high-speed broadband users at a
suggested price of $16.99. The bout took place after press time.
The Webcast provided viewing of the fight in real-time, as
well as the ability to see the event from several different camera angles, Showtime
executive vice president of corporate strategy and communications Mark Greenberg said.
Showtime also offered the fight to narrowband, dial-up
modem surfers at a retail price of $6.99, Greenberg said. As part of the Webcast,
consumers were expected to hear comments from both corners between each round.
Greenberg didn't provide a revenue projection from the
Webcasts, but he did say the company would consider future opportunities to provide dual
pay TV or PPV and Internet distribution for fights or other special events.
The network provided streamed video over the Internet for
the 1998 Evander Holyfield-Vaughn Bean bout, but Greenberg said the technology has
advanced to the point where it can now be viewed as a potential revenue opportunity.
"The technology has changed radically in a short time,
so we need to understand better the potential of the technology," Greenberg said.
"There are 43 million PCs, and 30 million of those have Internet capability. It
provides us with another way to build the category."
The Webcasts also allowed Showtime to further expose Tyson
to the public. The former heavyweight champion hadn't fought since January, when he
looked rusty in defeating Francois Botha. Tyson recently served less than four months of a
one-year prison term after a road-rage assault.
Although Greenberg hasn't ruled out a potential Tyson
fight in December or January, he said the fighter would most likely return sometime in
2000 in a PPV event.
"I think [the Showtime and Web exposure] is a great
way to get him back out in the marketplace," Greenberg said. "Our next event
[with Tyson] most likely will be a PPV event with a meaningful opponent."