May 21, 2006

Big-screen concerts widen reach of musicians’ tours

By Ray Waddell

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - Coming soon to a theater near you:
more concerts from today's hottest acts.

National CineMedia, a digital distributor of concerts for
movie theaters, has nailed down nonexclusive content agreements
with two leaders in the concert business, Live Nation and
Network Live.

The latter is a joint venture among AOL, XM Satellite Radio
and promoter AEG Live, which means that, ultimately, NCM has
the two largest promoters in the world committed to bringing it

NCM, owned by Regal Entertainment Group, AMC Entertainment
and Cinemark USA, delivers music content to 11,000 screens in
78 markets through its Big Screen Concerts division. "NCM is
the leader in their market," Faisel Durrani, president of
marketing for Live Nation, says. "They will get us the greatest
reach from the outset."

Live Nation was first out of the gate with a May 8 deal,
but the NCM/Network Live relationship, announced eight days
later, already was in place to a large degree. That partnership
dates back to a pioneering Bon Jovi album-release event staged
September 19 at the Nokia Theater in New York for "Have a Nice
Day." The event was beamed to 100 screens in 50 markets.

"What's different now is there is a formal arrangement in
place where we can really launch a program and a franchise and
a consistent opportunity for these two different constituencies
to really gain the benefits," Network Live COO Andrew Thau


Live Nation's Durrani says his company can deliver 10
concerts to NCM during the next 12 months. Galley says neither
Live Nation nor Network Live has committed to a specific number
of concerts, but rather their "best effort."

In all cases, the promoter/producers handle the concert
production, and NCM delivers the content to the theaters,
"including all the technology associated with the broadcast or
multicast," Galley says.

"This technology allows us to present a patron experience
that's exceptional: big screen, big sound, but without a big
price tag," Galley says. Typically tickets are $12.50-$15, a
fraction of what the best seats for most headlining concerts
run at the venue.

The concept already has delivered valuable exposure for
bands. On May 9, NCM simulcast a Widespread Panic show from
Atlanta's Fox Theater, which fans viewed live for $15 on 150
screens coast to coast.

The Panic concert will become a Sanctuary DVD at some
point. Similarly, the night before it goes on sale June 20, the
upcoming Korn DVD "Live on the Other Side" will premiere in
more than 100 movie theaters nationwide via Big Screen Concerts
in a deal with Live Nation.

Thau says the concert-in-a-movie-theater experience is
already taking hold with consumers, and he expects it to grow
rapidly. "No tour hits every city, and when they do hit a city,
often it's very expensive," he says.

An increase in the number of digital theaters -- NCM
distributes films to its network digitally, secure and
encrypted -- and more sophisticated marketing and ticketing
could drive growth.

"There are lots of factors that are converging at one point
that make the potential for this enormous," Thau says. "The
concert market is very mature, but this market is in its