Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pay-per-View Programs Poised for Breakthrough

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pay-per-View Programs Poised for Breakthrough

Article excerpt

NOT TOO long ago, pay-per-view cable programming mainly meant rowdy wrestlers and beefy boxers in big matches.

Today, Mike Tyson is in jail and Hulk Hogan has given up the arena for a syndicated television series. So you might think pay-per-view is really suffering.

On the contrary. Pay-per-view has become far more than than a home ringside seat. It is movies, rock concerts and Howard Stern's New Year's Eve party. But cable pay-per-view programming has never quite lived up to its potential.

That is about to change, some 700 cable television executives were told in Orlando last week. Pay-per-view, the perennial home entertainment wannabe, is poised for a breakthrough with the advent of digital television and new cable regulations.

In 1993, the industry had revenue of $512 million. In 2003, it is expected to reap $7.9 billion, predicted Larry Gerbrandt, an analyst for the cable research firm Paul Kagan Associates in Carmel, Calif.

Perhaps a sign of brighter days to come, attendance last week at the annual pay-per-view meeting of the Cable Television Administration and Marketing Society at Walt Disney World was up 40 percent from the year before.

"We're looking for (pay-per-view) being one of the major, if not the major, revenue sources in the future" for the cable industry, said David Limebrook, vice president of tactical marketing for Times Mirror Cable Television. His comments were made during a workshop for affiliates of the pay-per-view movie service Viewer's Choice.

Viewer's Choice expects to be providing 40 channels of pay-per-view movies within the next 12 to 18 months. While most cable systems have only a few channels available, a new set-top converter will soon be out that will increase channel capacity in individual homes by tenfold. That would make it possible to offer the most popular movies every 15 minutes. In the new television vernacular, this is known as near video on demand.

Such a system falls short of the instant gratification on the horizon. …

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