The pay-per-view delivery of the Rolling Stones' "50 And Counting" show Saturday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., the final installment of a run of dates commemorating the Stones' 50th anniversary, will be an interactive experience for those watching online.
WWE is distributing and marketing the PPV broadcast, titled "One More Shot" and produced by Ken Erlich, which will be available through cable, satellite and telco providers, and online via Yahoo! WWE hired NeuLine to handle the digital delivery, with NeuLine making use of its TV Everywhere platform used by sports clients like the NFL, NBA, and UFC events.
Fans opting for the online version of One More Shot will get HD video, DVR functionality, and even "instant replay," Chris Wagner, co-founder and EVP of NeuLion, tells Billboard.biz. The service will be available anywhere in the world, with support for local currencies, so consumers can watch on iPads or iPhones, PCs, tablets, and smartphones of all sorts, and can watch live or on demand for 30 days after the show.
NeuLion and WWE are working with Yahoo! to leverage the latter's traffic into PPV viewers. Stones fans can come to Yahoo! for historic footage, including past concerts, band interviews, and "backstage" access. Beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET/ 5:30 p.m. PT on Dec. 15, fans can watch an exclusive special entitled Countdown to the Rolling Stones, featuring pre-show activities and a countdown of the 10 greatest Rolling Stones moments of all-time.
While it seems strange at first blush, the Stones and promoter Paul Dainty partnering with WWE makes sense, considering the WWE's success in the world of pay-per-view; the WWE's Wrestlemania 28 on April 1 enjoyed 1.3 million global buys and gross sales of $67 million, they say.
"WWE is producing the live event, and our job is to take all the HD broadcast they're going to put on television and put it out on smartphones, iPads, computers, etc., handle all the transactions-I think we're dealing with some 22 different currencies around the world-make it all HD interactive, so you can replay moments of the concert, with all the social media integrated," says Wagner. "It's pretty cool."
Wagner says NeuLion, founded in 2004, delivered about 40,000 live events last year. "Primarily we get hired to be a white label service for big sports leagues, clubs, networks, [that] hire us to be the platform to deliver all their live sports for consumers," he explains. "NeuLion's a b2b company; much like they hire Cablevision, Comcast and Time Warner to deliver the TV product, WWE hired NeuLion to be the Internet product, so if you're a fan that wants a more interactive experience, you can pay online."
The cost is $39.95 for TV or Internet delivery, and Wagner believes that plenty of people will prefer the digital version. "It's going to definitely surprise some people," he says. "Watching something on TV is kind of a one-way conversation, but [digitally] you're able to interact with the show. We've seen on the sports side that fans like to interact with live events, and now we're applying that to live entertainment, and the Stones are the first one."
The Stones announced earlier this week that Bruce Springsteen, Lady Gaga and the Black Keys will join the band on stage for the Newark shows. Previous concerts at the O2 in London and Barclays Center in Brooklyn garnered rave reviews. Billboard.biz was the first to break news that the Stones would do these dates, for what sources say is a $25 million fee.