Pay-per-view (PPV) is a type of pay television service by which a subscriber of a television service provider can purchase events to view via private telecast. The broadcaster shows the event at the same time to everyone ordering it (as opposed to video-on-demand systems, which allow viewers to see recorded broadcasts at any time). Events can be purchased using an on-screen guide, an automated telephone system, or through a live customer service representative. Events often include feature films, sporting events and other entertainment programs.
The Zenith Phonevision system became the first pay-per-view system to be tested in the United States. Developed in 1951, it used telephone lines to take and receive orders, as well as to descramble a television broadcast signal. The field tests conducted for Phonevision lasted for 90 days and were tested in Chicago, Illinois. The system used IBM punch cards to descramble a signal broadcast during the broadcast station's "off-time". Both systems showed promise, but the Federal Communications Commission denied them the permits to operate.
One of the earliest pay-per-view systems on cable television, the Optical Systems-developed Channel 100, first began service in 1972 in San Diego, California through Mission Cable (which was later acquired by Cox Communications) and TheaterVisioN, which operated out of Sarasota, Florida. These early systems quickly went out of business, as the cable industry adopted satellite technology and as flat-rate pay television services such as Home Box Office (HBO) became popular.
Boxing was first introduced to pay-per-view with the "Thrilla In Manila" fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in September 1975 (which was also transmitted through HBO); there was also another major title fight aired on pay-per-view in 1980, when Roberto Duran defeated Sugar Ray Leonard. Cable companies offered the match for $10, and about 155,000 customers paid to watch the fight.
A major pay-per-view event occurred on September 16, 1981, when Sugar Ray Leonard fought Thomas "Hitman" Hearns for the World Welterweight Championship. Viacom Cablevision in Nashville, Tennessee – the first system to offer the event – saw over 50 percent of its subscriber base purchase the fight. Leonard visited Nashville to promote the fight, and the event proved such a success that Viacom themed its annual report for that year around it. Viacom marketing director Pat Thompson put together the fight, and subsequently put together additional PPV fights, wrestling matches and even a televised Broadway play.
After leaving Viacom, Thompson became head of Sports View and produced the first pay-per-view football game on October 16, 1983, a college football game between the University of Tennessee and the University of Alabama from Birmingham, Alabama. Sports View played a role in building pay-per-view networks, and became the early pioneer in developing TigerVision for Louisiana State University, TideVision for Alabama and UT Vol Seat for Tennessee. Sports View also produced the Ohio State-Michigan football game for pay-per-view in November 1983.
In 1985, the first pay-per-view cable channels in the United States – Viewer's Choice (now In Demand), Cable Video Store, First Choice and Request TV – began operation within days of each other. Viewer's Choice serviced both home satellite dish and cable customers, while Request TV, though broadcasting to cable viewers, would not become available to satellite subscribers until the 1990s. First Choice PPV was available on Rogers Cablesystems in the United States and Canada. After Paragon Cable acquired the Rogers Cablesystems franchise in San Antonio, Texas, First Choice continued to be carried until Time Warner Cable bought Paragon in 1996. In the United States, pay-per-view broadcasters transmit without advertisements, similar to conventional flat-rate pay television services.
The term "pay-per-view" did not come into general use until the late 1980s when companies such as Viewer's Choice, HBO and Showtime started using the system to show movies and some of their productions. Viewer's Choice carried movies, concerts and other events, with live sporting events such as WrestleMania being the most predominant programming. Prices ranged from $3.99 to $49.99, while HBO and Showtime, with their event production legs TVKO and SET Pay Per View, would offer championship boxing matches ranging from $14.99 to $54.99.
ESPN later began to televise college football and basketball games on pay-per-view through its services ESPN Gameplan and ESPN Full Court, which were eventually sold as full-time out-of-market sports packages. The boxing undercard Latin Fury, shown on June 28, 2003, became ESPN's first boxing card on pay-per-view and also the first pay-per-view boxing card held in Puerto Rico. Pay-per-view has provided a revenue stream for professional wrestling circuits such as WWE, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), Ring of Honor (ROH) and Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (AAA).
WWE chairman and chief executive officer Vince McMahon is considered by many as one of the icons of pay-per-view promotion. McMahon owns the rights to payperview.com, which redirects to the WWE website.
In 2006, HBO generated 3.7 million pay-per-view buys with $177 million in gross sales. The only year with more buys previously, 1999, had a total of 4 million. The former record fell in 2007 when HBO sold 4.8 million PPV buys with $255 million in sales.
1999 differed radically from 2006: 1999 saw four major fight cards: De La Hoya-Trinidad (1.4 million buys), Holyfield-Lewis I (1.2 million), Holyfield-Lewis II (850,000) and De La Hoya-Quartey (570,000). By contrast, only one pay-per-view mega-fight took place in 2006: De La Hoya-Mayorga (925,000 buys). Rahman-Maskaev bombed with under 50,000. The other eight PPV cards that year all fell in the 325,000–450,000 range. Pay-per-view fights in that range almost always generate more money for the promoter and fighters than HBO wants to pay for an HBO World Championship Boxing license-fee.
In May 2007, the super-welterweight boxing match between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. on HBO PPV became the biggest-selling non-heavyweight title fight, with a little more than 2.5 million buyers. The fight itself generated roughly $134.4 million in domestic PPV revenue, making it the most lucrative prizefight of all time.
The leading PPV attraction, Oscar De La Hoya, has "sold" approximately 12.8 million units in total, giving $612 million in domestic television receipts. In third place in buys, Evander Holyfield has achieved 12.6 million units ($543 million); and in second, Mike Tyson has reached 12.4 million units ($545 million). Floyd "Money" Mayweather has generated 9,6 million buys and $543 million in revenue
Ross Greenburg, then president of HBO Sports, called the expansion of pay-per-view "the biggest economic issue in boxing", stating "I can't tell you that pay-per-view helps the sport because it doesn't. It hurts the sport because it narrows our audience, but it's a fact of life. Every time we try to make an HBO World Championship Boxing fight, we're up against mythical pay-per-view numbers. HBO doesn't make a lot of money from pay-per-view. There's usually a cap on what we can make. But the promoters and fighters insist on pay-per-view because that's where their greatest profits lie."
"It's a big problem," Greenburg continues. "It's getting harder and harder to put fighters like Manny Pacquiao on HBO World Championship Boxing. If Floyd Mayweather beats Oscar, he might never fight on HBO World Championship Boxing again. But if HBO stopped doing pay-per-view, the promoters would simply do it on their own [like Bob Arum did with Cotto-Malignaggi in June 2006] or find someone else who will do it for them."
Former HBO Sports President Seth Abraham concurs, saying, "I think, if Lou (DiBella) and I were still at HBO, we'd be in the same pickle as far as the exodus of fights to pay-per-view is concerned."
Select HBO/Showtime PPV boxing buy-rates between 1991 and 2013:
|Apr 19, 1991||Evander Holyfield vs. George Foreman||Holyfield wins by UD (116–111, 117–110, 115–112)||1,400,000|
|Oct 18, 1991||Ray Mercer vs. Tommy Morrison||Mercer wins by KO in round 5||200,000|
|Jun 28, 1991||Mike Tyson vs. Donovan Ruddock II||Tyson wins by UD (113–109, 114–108, 114–108)||1,250,000|
|Jun 19, 1992||Evander Holyfield vs. Larry Holmes||Holyfield wins by UD (117–111, 116–112, 116–112)||730,000|
|Jun 7, 1993||George Foreman vs. Tommy Morrison||Morrison wins by UD (117–110, 117–110, 118–108)||600,000|
|Nov 18, 1994||James Toney vs. Roy Jones, Jr.||Jones wins by UD (119–108, 118–109, 117–110)||300,000|
|Aug 19, 1995||Mike Tyson vs. Peter McNeeley||Tyson wins by DQ in round 1||1,550,000|
|Nov 4, 1995||Riddick Bowe vs. Evander Holyfield III||Bowe wins by TKO in round 8||650,000|
|Mar 16, 1996||Frank Bruno vs. Mike Tyson II||Tyson wins by TKO in round 3||1,370,000|
|Sep 7, 1996||Bruce Seldon vs. Mike Tyson||Tyson wins by TKO in round 1||1,150,000|
|Nov 9, 1996||Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield||Holyfield wins by TKO in round 11||1,590,000|
|Apr 12, 1997||Oscar De La Hoya vs. Pernell Whitaker||De La Hoya wins by UD (115–111, 116–110, 116–110)||720,000|
|Jun 28, 1997||Evander Holyfield vs. Mike Tyson II||Holyfield wins by DQ in round 3||1,990,000|
|Nov 8, 1997||Evander Holyfield vs. Michael Moorer II||Holyfield wins by RTD in round 8||550,000|
|Jan 16, 1999||Mike Tyson vs. Francois Botha||Tyson wins by KO in round 5||750,000|
|Mar 13, 1999||Evander Holyfield vs. Lennox Lewis||Draw (116–113, 113–115, 115–115)||1,200,000|
|Sep 18, 1999||Oscar De La Hoya vs. Félix Trinidad||Trinidad wins by MD (115–113, 115–114, 114–114)||1,400,000|
|Nov 13, 1999||Evander Holyfield vs. Lennox Lewis II||Lewis wins by UD (116–112, 117–111, 115–113)||850,000|
|Apr 29, 2000||Lennox Lewis vs. Michael Grant||Lewis wins by KO in round 2||340,000|
|Oct 20, 2000||Mike Tyson vs. Andrew Golota||Tyson wins by TKO in round 3 (later changed to a no contest)||450,000|
|Nov 11, 2000||Lennox Lewis vs. David Tua||Lewis wins by UD (119–109, 118–110, 117–111)||420,000|
|Mar 3, 2001||Evander Holyfield vs. John Ruiz||Ruiz wins by UD (116–110, 115–111, 114–111)||185,000|
|Apr 7, 2001||Marco Antonio Barrera vs. Naseem Hamed||Barrera wins by UD (116–111, 115–112, 115–112)||310,000|
|Jun 8, 2002||Lennox Lewis vs. Mike Tyson||Lewis wins by KO in round 8||1,970,000|
|Sep 14, 2002||Oscar De La Hoya vs. Fernando Vargas||De La Hoya wins by TKO in round 11||935,000|
|Feb 22, 2003||Mike Tyson vs. Clifford Etienne||Tyson wins by KO in round 1||100,000|
|Mar 1, 2003||John Ruiz vs. Roy Jones, Jr.||Jones wins by UD (118–110, 117–111, 116–112)||525,000|
|Sep 13, 2003||Oscar De La Hoya vs. Shane Mosley II||Mosley wins by UD (113–115, 113–115, 113–115)||950,000|
|Oct 4, 2003||James Toney vs. Evander Holyfield||Toney wins by TKO in round 9||150,000|
|Nov 8, 2003||Antonio Tarver vs. Roy Jones, Jr.||Jones wins by MD (117–111, 116–112, 114–114)||302,000|
|May 15, 2004||Roy Jones, Jr. vs. Antonio Tarver II||Tarver wins by KO in round 2||360,000|
|Sep 18, 2004||Bernard Hopkins vs. Oscar De La Hoya||Hopkins wins by KO in round 9||1,000,000|
|Jun 11, 2005||Mike Tyson vs. Kevin McBride||McBride wins by TKO in round 7||250,000|
|Oct 1, 2005||Antonio Tarver vs. Roy Jones, Jr. III||Tarver wins by UD (117–111, 116–112, 116–112)||405,000|
|May 6, 2006||Oscar De La Hoya vs. Ricardo Mayorga||De La Hoya wins by TKO in round 6||925,000|
|May 5, 2007||Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather||Mayweather wins by SD (116–112, 115–113, 113–115)||2,400,000|
|Dec 8, 2007||Floyd Mayweather vs. Ricky Hatton||Mayweather wins by TKO in round 10||920,000|
|Dec 6, 2008||Oscar De La Hoya vs. Manny Pacquiao||Pacquiao wins by RTD in round 8||1,250,000|
|May 2, 2009||Ricky Hatton vs. Manny Pacquiao||Pacquiao wins by KO in round 2||825,000|
|Sep 19, 2009||Floyd Mayweather vs. Juan Manuel Márquez||Mayweather wins by UD (120–107, 119–108, 118–109)||1,060,000|
|Nov 14, 2009||Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto||Pacquiao wins by TKO in round 12||1,250,000|
|Mar 13, 2010||Manny Pacquiao vs. Joshua Clottey||Pacquiao wins by UD (119–109, 119–109, 120–108)||700,000|
|May 1, 2010||Floyd Mayweather vs. Shane Mosley||Mayweather wins by UD (119–109, 118–110, 119–109)||1,400,000|
|Nov 13, 2010||Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito||Pacquiao wins by UD (120–108, 118–110, 119–109)||1,150,000|
|May 7, 2011||Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosley||Pacquiao wins by UD (119–108, 120–108, 120–107)||1,300,000|
|Sep 17, 2011||Floyd Mayweather vs. Victor Ortiz||Mayweather wins by KO in round 4||1,250,000|
|Nov 13, 2011||Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez III||Pacquiao wins by MD (115–113, 114–114, 116–112)||1,250,000|
|May 5, 2012||Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto||Mayweather wins by UD (117–111, 117–111, 118–110)||1,500,000|
|Jun 9, 2012||Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley||Bradley wins by SD (115–113, 115–113, 115–113)||890,000|
|Sep 15, 2012||Sergio Martínez vs. Julio César Chávez, Jr.||Martínez wins by UD (118–109, 118–109, 117–110)||475,000|
|Dec 8, 2012||Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Márquez IV||Márquez wins by KO in round 6||1,150,000|
|May 4, 2013||Floyd Mayweather vs. Robert Guerrero||Mayweather wins by UD (117–111, 117–111, 117–111)||875,000|
|Sept 14, 2013||Floyd Mayweather vs. Saúl Álvarez||Mayweather wins by MD (117–111, 116–112, 114–114)||2,200,000|
|Oct 12, 2013||Timothy Bradley vs. Juan Manuel Márquez||Bradley wins by SD (115–113, 116–112, 113–115)||375,000|
|Nov 24, 2013||Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios||Pacquiao wins by UD (119–109, 120–108, 118–110)||475,000|
UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship)
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), a relative newcomer on the pay-per-view scene, matched the once-dominant World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. in pay-per-view revenues during 2006 and surpassed boxing titan HBO. The three companies make up the bulk of the pay-per-view business. According to Deana Myers, a senior analyst at Kagan Research LLC (which tracks the PPV industry), "UFC has reinvigorated the pay-per-view category."
The highest buy rates for the UFC as of November 2012[update] are as follows:
Note: The UFC does not release official PPV statistics, and the following PPV numbers are as reported by industry insiders.
In Canada, First Choice offers pay-per-view services through various Canadian satellite and digital cable providers, including Rogers Digital Cable, Shaw Direct and MTS. Prices range from C$5.99 (for movies) up to $20 or more for special events. Bell TV delivers its own pay-per-view service, Vu!, to its satellite subscribers. Prices range from $4.99 up to $20 or more for special events. It also runs Venus, an adult pay-per-view service, to its satellite subscribers for $9.99 per movie.
Cable communications operator UPC Romania has notified the National Audiovisual Council (CNA) on the intention to introduce in January, February 2014 at the latest, an on-demand audiovisual media service called Agerpres. According to the manager of UPC Romania-owned Smaranda Radoi UPC, will allow customers to watch movies on demand or live events; as well as broadcasts of performances, concerts and sporting events.
Viewers in the United Kingdom can access pay-per-view via satellite, cable and over-the-internet television services, mainly for films – with services such as Sky Box Office. Broadcasters (most notably PremPlus) have largely abandoned their aspirations to introduce PPV into the sports market due to poor take-up; as of 2009[update] it carries only occasional boxing matches and half of the WWE pay-per-view events, with the other half shown on Sky Sports.
Launched in the late 1990s, Canalsat (Ciné+) and TPS (Multivision) operate their own pay-per-view service. While CanalSat holds the rights to live soccer matches for France's Ligue 1, TPS had the rights for Boxe matches. In 2007, Multivision service ceased by the end of TPS service which merged with Canalsat. Nowadays, Ciné+ is the only existing pay-per-view service in France.
Australia and the Pacific Islands
Foxtel and Optus Vision introduced pay-per-view direct to home television in Australia in the mid-to-late 1990s. Foxtel had Event TV (until it transformed into its current form; Main Event) while, Optus Vision had Main Attraction Pay-Per-View as its provider. As of 2005, Main Event is the current pay-per-view provider through Foxtel and Optus cable/satellite subscription.
Sky Pacific started a service in Fiji and in other Pacific Island nations[which?] in 2006.
SkyPerfecTV subscribers can receive one-click pay-per-view access to hundreds of channels supplying domestic and international sporting events (including WWE events), movies, and specialty programming, either live or later on continuous repeat on its channel.
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