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Another View: Too Much, Too Late for Ops

9/20/1998 8:00 PM Eastern

Operators left twiddling their thumbs during an abnormallyslow pay-per-view summer had better be prepared to roll up their sleeves and juggle alitany of big PPV events and film titles in the month of November.

The boxing genre, which has been relatively nonexistentthis year, promises to return that month with a bang. By press time, the Nevada AthleticCommission will have laid the groundwork for Mike Tyson's next chapter in boxing.

Right now, Showtime Networks Inc. is probably eitherfinalizing plans for a November Tyson fight in Las Vegas, or calling several Eastern Bloccountries to see if they want to host the self-proclaimed "baddest man on theplanet's" next PPV fight.

Meanwhile, TVKO will either be trying to move Oscar De LaHoya's career forward in a November PPV fight against welterweight champion IkeQuartey, or trying to resurrect it in a third fight against Julio Cesar Chavez, the likelywinner in last Friday's (Sept. 18) bout against De La Hoya, which took place afterpress time.

Either way, operators will be faced with the unenviabletask of marketing two major PPV-boxing events within a span of four weeks, after notseeing any big-ticket shows all year.

At the same time, they will have the ultimate challenge oftrying to squeeze more revenue out of $600 million box-office title Titanic. Nomovie in the history of PPV has had more premarketing and exposure than Paramount'sand 20th Century Fox's incredible blockbuster. Add to that a 90-day window on asell-through home-video title, and PPV's task becomes even more daunting.

Yet operators can't ignore the wrestling genre, whichhas sustained the PPV business since Tyson's ear-biting exhibition against Holyfieldin mid-1997. Both World Championship Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation havesignature events scheduled during the month that will require substantial marketing andpromotional support.

If that isn't enough, operators will still be in themidst of rolling out ESPN's college-football and Fox Sports' English PremiereLeague soccer packages.

Finally, well-known female acts Joni Mitchell and TrishaYearwood will be testing the PPV concert waters.

While the scheduling of PPV events outside of wrestling isan imperfect science and very unpredictable, there has to be some kind of arrangementbetween the various event providers to spread the wealth of events throughout the year.

Having two major boxing events in the same month, forexample, hurts not only operators, but the event providers. Buys are ultimatelycannibalized by the other events, while busy operators are delayed in writing checks forthe events.

Operators always say they can never have enough events,especially in a down year like 1998. But when events are on top of one another, it canprovide more problems than solutions.

 

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