Despite targeting similar demographics, operators last week
reported brisk sales for both the July 23-25 Woodstock '99 pay-per-view
concert and the July 25 World Wrestling Federation Fully Loaded event.
"From a PPV perspective, the whole weekend was
dedicated to the 18-34 [year-old] male demographic and it proved to be a success for
us," said Eric Lardy, marketing assistant at Cable One of Fargo, N.D.
While the WWF product has been very hot of late, Woodstock
'99 dominated most of the consumer-press coverage last week. -- but not all
of it was positive. Very preliminary operator returns put the buy-rate for the concert
billed as the 20th anniversary of the famed 1960's music/love fest
-- at around 0.4 to 0.5 percent. It was unclear, however how many of the
concert's approximately 155,000 to 165,000 buys were $29.95 single day purchases or
$59.95 package buys.
If those numbers hold, the concert would fall slightly
short of the more than 200,000 buys for the Woodstock '94 event. But industry
executives are nevertheless happy about the event's performance.
"We're happy with the performance of the event,
and would certainly entertain future events of this magnitude from Metropolitan
Entertainment or any other prominent promoter," said Joe Boyle, vice president of
corporate communications for Viewer's Choice, although he would not reveal specific
Media General Cable of Fairfax City, Va., generated over
805 combined single-day and package buys for the event, well above expectations. "We
generated nearly $30,000 for Woodstock," said Media General PPV manager Ted Hodgins.
"That's not bad use of a channel for three full days. We certainly wouldn't
have gotten that with PPV movies."
Most of the Woodstock press coverage, however, concerned
events that were not part of the PPV telecast. A riot erupted toward the end of the
three-day festival, as several thousand spectators set several fires and destroyed vendor
booths before local police brought the situation under control early Monday morning.
The live PPV telecast had ended prior to the riot, however,
said industry executives.
"It's unfortunate that this had to end on a sour
note, possibly remembered more by the disturbing behavior of a few hundred fans than the
20th anniversary of a historic and cultural event," Boyle said.
The PPV telecast will also most likely be remembered for
its frequent shots of male and female nudity both onstage and in the crowd, although
operators reported very few complaints from subscribers about the footage.
"Unfortunately, what should be seen as a positive for
PPV, may ultimately give the industry another black eye," said one cable operator.
Operators had concerns about the concert's potential
performance coming into the event, although the Woodstock '94 event stands as
the most lucrative concert event in PPV history, grossing more than $9 million.
Those concerns were compounded by the event's lack of
distribution on Viewer's Choice's main channel. Many operators not carrying
Viewer's Choice's channel 2 or channel 5 had to clear other, non-PPV channels to
offer the event. Only 23 million out of a potential 28 million PPV cable-addressable
household universe had access to the two Viewer's Choice services.
Also, while the event was offered on an individual-day
basis or as a three-day package, some operators chose to only offer one of the options,
further skewing the final results.
Operators were also concerned about whether the WWF's
July 16 Fully Loaded event and that day's Woodstock coverage would cannibalize
But the WWF last week reported that Fully Loaded
generated between 395,000 and 400,000 buys, 25 percent above last year's numbers.
"We didn't expect Woodstock to hurt Fully Loaded and it
didn't," said Bonnie Werth, president and CEO of Team Services, which handles
marketing and promotion for the WWF. "It's apparent that both events performed
A midsized New York-area system generated buys for the
event above last year's WWF numbers, although the system's PPV executive would
not reveal specific numbers. "Wrestling has done very well this year, and that trend
continued with Fully Loaded," said the operator.
Cable One's Lardy said that the system averaged
between 200 and 210 buys for both the WWF event and Woodstock '99.