PPV feels the pinch without Tyson, ‘Mania’

First qtr. revs down 70% from record-setting '99 season

Without Mike Tyson and WWF’s “Wrestlemania,” the pay-per-view event business generated an estimated $62 million in revenues for the first quarter of 2000, down 70% from the $207 million the industry grossed over the same period in 1999.

“Without midrange and high-profile boxing events featuring Tyson or wrestling’s perennial leader, ‘Wrestlemania,’ the record pace of event revenue generated by the PPV industry last year simply could not be maintained,” said Mark Greenberg, exec VP and general manager of SET (Showtime Event Television) Pay Per View, which tracks the industry.

In the first three months of 2000, only 27 pay-per-view events were distributed, compared with 34 for the same period in 1999. Moreover, only three high-profile boxing events were featuring during the period — another cause of the dramatic drop in revenue. And “Wrestlemania,” traditionally the first quarter’s most successful PPV event, is scheduled for the second quarter this year.

1999 a record year

Over the course of 1999, pay-per-view events generated an estimated $486 million — a record. The $206 million total for events in the first quarter of 1999 was 170% higher than the $76.2 million total for the same period in 1998 and 224% higher than the $63.6 million racked up by PPV events during the first quarter of 1997, according to SET figures.

Wrestling and boxing continue to rep the lion’s share of PPV event revenue during the first quarter of 2000, with about 77% (47.7 million) and 15% (9.2 million) of the revenue, respectively. Still, revenue from wrestling and boxing was down 43% and 92%, respectively, over the same period last year.

Greenberg anticipates a resurgence in PPV revenue when “new product begins to flow into the marketplace.”

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