'South Park' Heads Back to PPV


Comedy Central will once again package several episodes of its popular South Park
series in a pay-per-view special slated to premiere in September.

The network will celebrate the fifth anniversary of the irreverent animated series with a two-hour, three-episode PPV special, Comedy executive vice president of affiliate relations Brad Samuels said.

Distributed by In Demand LLC, TVN Entertainment Corp., EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc. for $6.95, The South Park 5th Anniversary Special
will also showcase never-before-seen footage of series creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker.

The pair will offer secrets and stories about the series and episodes featured during the telecast, as well as commentary provided by such celebrities as Danny DeVito, Hugh Hefner, Chris Klein and Jay Leno, according to network executives.

"The fifth anniversary special is must-see TV for South Park
fans and demonstrates, once again, the real value of PPV and [video-on-demand] television for true entertainment fans," said In Demand senior vice president of programming and development Dan York. "We enjoy working with Comedy Central and look forward to sharing other programming opportunities with them in the future."

The anniversary event is the second PPV South Park
offering from the comedic channel. In November of 2000, Comedy packaged four holiday episodes of the series as South Park Holiday Memories.

The first special performed well, said Samuels, although he would not reveal specific buy-rate figures. Both cable and direct-broadcast satellite operators were very pleased with the event, he added.

"One operator said the event did what a mid-level studio release would normally do, which is good considering that we don't ordinarily offer PPV events," Samuels said.

The upcoming special's suggested retail price is nearly double that of the $3.99 charged for its 2001 predecessor.

"All of the major distributors said the first event performed well enough to justify that [higher] price," said Samuels.

Comedy Central will offer the South Park
special via PPV even though it provides original content for several VOD offerings. Samuels said it chose PPV for this event because of the larger subscriber universe it provides.

"PPV has a much wider distribution and has the opportunity to generate more revenue," Samuels said. "We do eventually intend to put [the special] in a VOD window."

But Samuels was noncommittal about the potential for future events involving South Park
or other Comedy properties.

"We're excited about getting out there with the second one, but we don't have any future plans to offer PPV events beyond The South Park 5th Anniversary Special," he said.