PPV pans for gold in niche p’gramming

Preparing for college may get a little easier next year with the help of the pay-per-view industry.

New York-based Prestige Prods. Ventures, in association with the U.S.’ largest coaching course for the Scholastic Aptitude Test, are about to produce a two-hour SAT mini-review course, which will air as a PPV event in 1993.

Cable industry exex say they hope this unusual PPV program will be the start of a trend.

Spurred by Tele-Communications Inc.’s announcement last week that it will soon offer some customers as many as 500 channels, the PPV industry is preparing to enter the digital era.

As a result, PPV will inevitably become a much larger business than it is today. Movies are expected to make up the bulk of offerings on hundreds of PPV channels, but some industry seers foresee a time when low-cost programming aimed at specific niches will be a regular PPV component.

“Ifthe economics are constructed properly, niche PPV could be a good business ,” said Scott Kurnit, president of Showtime Event Television, a PPV producer and distributor. “We haven’t seen much of that yet,” he said, but he believes that with the coming explosion of PPV households, it’s inevitable.

“Take a look at a video store,” said Kurnit. “All the titles that exist there can exist as specialized PPV programming.” Likely topics: Self-help and educational materials.

Sources in the cable industry say other producers are developing programs with PPV in mind, such as a stop-smoking course, educational classes for credit, and programs on how to find scholarship dollars and how to select a college.

Prestige and Princeton Review’s PPV SAT review course has no dates yet, but Prestige president Susan C. Greene expects it to air several times in the weeks preceding SAT test dates on Viewer’s Choice, Request TV and Cable Video Store. The idea is that in an era of educational cutbacks there are many college-bound students who are not getting the extra help they need to prepare for the college entrance exam.

Prestige is seeking a sponsor to help defray production costs.

Its backers have not yet set a price, but Viewer’s Choice exex say they expect the SAT review course to be offered at around $ 20.

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