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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, December 17, 2009

PPV prep football a hit

BY Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Keith Amemiya

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Dave Vinton

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OC 16's pay-per-view and pay Web telecasts of the Dec. 4 state football championships were considered such a success that negotiations are in progress to do it again next year.

The pay-per-view generated more than $50,000 for the Hawai'i High School Athletic Association, the governing body that conducts state tournaments.

"It is safe to say it exceeded everyone's expectations for the amount of sales and the amount of money," said director of OC 16 sports Dave Vinton, adding the cable provider was hoping to net at least 1,000 subscribers. "We made more than $50,000 for HHSAA and that is a substantial amount over the base television rights we were in contract with them."

Vinton said he could not reveal the exact number who purchased the pay-per-view package, only saying it was "more than a thousand."

"For a first-time joint venture, I thought it was a great success in that we made more money through our TV deal than ever before and we still had strong attendance," HHSAA executive director Keith Amemiya said.

The past two years, the state title games were televised by OC 16 on a delayed basis, usually the day after the game, to protect the gate. This year's games drew 21,661, the fourth-highest turnout in the 11 years of the state tournament.

The only other football title game that was shown on pay-per-view was the 1998 O'ahu Prep Bowl between Saint Louis and Kahuku. That telecast made $100,000 in sales for Oceanic. In the Prep Bowl arrangement between the O'ahu Interscholastic Association and Interscholastic League of Honolulu, revenue was shared among the then-21 OIA schools and the six ILH football programs. The 27 programs shared $30,000 they got from Oceanic.

OC 16 did telecast the first-round state tournament game between Leilehua and Baldwin live from Maui, the station's first live football broadcast from the Valley Isle. It also broadcast the Division I semifinals from Aloha Stadium live. Vinton said OC 16 has always wanted to do the championship live, but there was a reluctance because of its possible affect on attendance. Amemiya said this year, Oceanic and the HHSAA agreed to a trial.

"If we didn't, we'd be speculating every year" the effects of a live telecast on the gate, Amemiya said.

"I think the biggest thing was that their gate was not hurt," Vinton added. "They had a very good attendance for the event."

Vinton said Oceanic took some heat on message boards or blogs about the pay-per-view. Oceanic views pay-per-view as another live option for fans. Vinton said those who purchased pay-per-view were unlikely to attend the game, generating revenue that otherwise would've been lost.

The boom of large-screen and high-definition TVs also might be a factor.

"I think we're at a convergence of technologies," Vinton said. "People are into HD now, the price of those big TVs has come down. So if you're a sports fan, there's no doubt you love watching sports in HD on the biggest screen possible, so it doesn't hurt, at the very least."

The pay-per-view package for the Division II championship between 'Iolani and Kaua'i and the Division I championship between Kamehameha and Kahuku cost $29.95 for O'ahu customers before game day and jumped to $49.95 on game day. For Neighbor Island customers it was $14.95 and $24.95, respectively.

Despite the increased markup, purchases on game day were "close to pre-orders," said Vinton said, adding this was common for other pay-per-view athletic events.

"It's not surprising to have a surge on the day of the event," Vinton said. "That's kind of typical for whatever the event, MMA, boxing, all those type of things, there's a lot of last-minute sales."

The telecast was on the Internet for $10, available only for purchase an hour before the 4:30 p.m. start of the Division II game. Vinton said there were more than 400 Webcast orders. He said he received a number of e-mails from Kahuku and Kamehameha followers around the world inquiring about the game.

General admission was $12 for the championship game, although discounted tickets for $9 were available at O'ahu and Kaua'i branches of First Hawaiian Bank, the title sponsor for the football tournament. Parking at Aloha Stadium for high school events is $2.

Vinton added Oceanic had a nice response from the Neighbor Islands, led by Kaua'i, which had a team in the Division II title game.

Although he hasn't received a complete accounting of the OC 16 and gate receipts, Amemiya estimates the football state tournaments, including corporate sponsorships, will generate more than $200,000. Three-fourths of that will be distributed among the 48 athletic programs with football teams and the rest to the HHSAA.

Moreover, OC 16 and the HHSAA will make contributions to the Save Our Sports fund that aids public schools from budget cuts.