In a first for professional wrestling, World Championship
Wrestling, TVKO and Comcast Corp. will offer a daylong preview show leading up to WCW's
July 11 Bash at the Beach pay-per-view event.
The five-hour countdown show, co-produced by TVKO and
Comcast, will precede the 8 p.m. PPV airing of Bash at the Beach, TVKO vice
president and general manager Dan York said. The show will be offered free-of-charge to
operators to run on barker channels or local-access channels.
Preview shows are commonplace in boxing events, with many
of them lasting nearly two days. But wrestling distributors have only offered half-hour
shows prior to PPV events.
Much like the boxing shows, WCW's program will feature a
behind-the-scenes look at the events leading up to the PPV show, including interviews with
the wrestlers and celebrity guests, York said.
The show will also allow operators 10 minutes each hour to
insert promotional or advertising spots. Comcast will insert "branded cutaways"
featuring MSO-specific programming, company executives said.
Comcast original programming vice president Jon Gorchow
said the MSO is "excited to team up with the WCW and TVKO to bring Comcast customers
a never-before-seen view of a professional-wrestling PPV event like Bash at the Beach."
WCW director of corporate-marketing and PPV operations Jay
Hassman also said the Comcast tie-in was part of the MSO's one-year marketing agreement
with WCW, under which Comcast will contribute marketing funds along with the WCW in an
effort to boost wrestling buy-rates.
AT&T Broadband & Internet Services and Cablevision
Systems Corp. also have one-year marketing deals with WCW, but they are not involved in
the production of the countdown show.
"We're confident that our buy-rates will go up for
systems that are distributing the show," Hassman said.
Countdown shows for boxing have increased buy-rates by 15
percent to 20 percent for systems making them available to their consumers. "PPV
events perform better when promoted and positioned as big events," York said.
"Countdown shows certainly position a big PPV event as a mega-event."
As far as future countdown shows are concerned, Hassman
said, WCW and Comcast will evaluate each event on a case-by-case basis to determine if
such shows would be effective.