Pay-per-view is now championship contender

October 26, 1990|By Phil Jackman


The TV repairman: THEY CONDUCTED a very big fight at the Mirage Hotel here last night, and Buster Douglas' runaway waistline had nothing to do with it.

See, the bout was a pay-per-view deal. They're estimating that about 1 million homes ponied up at least $35 to watch and, well, you can see the kind of money we're talking about here.

The fact is, PPV has already knocked closed circuit telecasts out of the box and is now seeking even greenbacker pastures.

As exclusive owner of the telecast, Steve Wynn and the Mirage were, in effect, auditioning for the PPV industry, which is always looking for revenue-producing shows.

The Rolling Stones were in concert last December and set a PPV buy rate record of 2.2 percent. Imagine what the Super Bowl will do in a couple of years when 30 million homes have PPV capability and the present network contracts are up for renewal.

It's inconceivable that the nets would be able to bid enough for this once-a-year event to be included in somebody's package, considering the take for the game itself could run to $200 million.

One-shot events, that's the key. And that, every so often, is what boxing has, although the boys have been known to put the padded mittens on against each other more than once.

Still, Leonard-Hearns III and Tyson-Foreman turns them on. Douglas-Holyfield obviously did.

The problem in the entertainment world is singers go out on long tours, so an appearance on PPV would be just another concert. But not if the money was right.

* Remember Kevin Barry? Of course not. He's the New Zealander Evander Holyfield decked with a left in the '84 Olympics just as the referee was yelling "Break." Holyfield was disqualified to a bronze medal. Barry is here reporting for New Zealand television and writing a newspaper column.

* What the ratings for the short-lived World Series proved beyond a shadow of a doubt is that it matters not which network has the assignment, fans are going to watch anyway. Which is as it should be.

Generally speaking, the pictures CBS sent along came nowhere near matching the work of predecessors NBC and ABC. The pre-game shows were weak and the announcing ordinary. Still, the games grabbed the Nos. 1-2-5-6 spots in last week's ratings.

Regardless, the overall Series was not that strong in the ratings department and CBS lost gobs of money because of the Series and American League Championship Series blowouts.

A net spokesman said, "You always expect to lose money the first year of a contract." Estimates of CBS's losses start at $100 million. Since the four-year deal was for $1.06 billion, chances are CBS might re-think the way it is presenting the game.

What started out as the network's "Dream Season" -- the Super Bowl, Final Four, NBA Final, baseball playoffs, Series, etc. -- has taken on a new description. All the premier events have been routs or sweeps, ratings have dipped drastically and ad sales in a soft market have been disappointing.

* A Vegas radio station conducted a Free Tarkanian Rally in its parking lot yesterday, proceeds going to a fund to aid the UNLV basketball coach and his players who are suing the NCAA for ruling they can't take part in the tournament next March.

* NBC starts its NBA coverage Sunday with "Inside Stuff," a show put together by the league for the network. Ahmad Rashad and Julie Moran host.

* Stan Hansen, the rage of wrestling in Japan and the man who inadvertently fractured the legendary Bruno Sammartino's neck back in 1976, will make a rare appearance in a U.S. ring. He's slated to go against Lex Luger in the NWA pay-per-view show "Halloween Havoc" Saturday night.

* TNT's opening NBA salvo will have Philadelphia vs. Chicago and Phoenix vs. Utah next Friday. Two games, as though the NBA season isn't long enough already.

* George Foreman is on the evening soaper "Twin Peaks" tomorrow. You can't miss him, he's big, bald and big.

* Speaking of big, Boog Powell was the guest on ESPN's "Sports Look" the other night and the show had to expand to an hour.

* NBC can't be too happy about popular trainer Wayne Lukas running around saying tomorrow's Breeders' Cup show (1:30 to 6 p.m.) will get lousy ratings because there's no big-name horse to draw the attention.

Seven races at about two minutes each leaves quite a bit of time to fill, and puts great pressure on the channel-switchers to get back to the races from the football games on CBS and ABC at exactly the right time.

* The 49ers were just about to close out the Steelers last Sunday when radio voice Joe Starkey said, "At least one Bay Area team will have a victory over a team from Ohio this weekend." Analyst Wayne Walker countered, "Joe, I think you just moved Pittsburgh."

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