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Encyclopedia > Pay per view

Pay-per-view is the name given to a system by which television viewers can call and order events to be seen on TV and pay for the private telecast of that event to their homes later. The event is shown at the same time to everyone ordering it, as opposed to video on demand systems.


Pay-per-view has been around since the 1970s, when the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers began using the system after winning the championship in the 1977 season. However, the term "pay-per-view" wasn't widely used until the 1990s, when companies like In Demand, HBO and Showtime started using the system to show movies and some of their productions. In Demand would show movies, concerts and other events, with prices ranging from $3.99 to $49.99, while HBO and Showtime, with their legs TVKO and SET Pay Per View would offer championship boxing, with prices ranging from $14.99 to $54.99. ESPN has shown college football and basketball games on pay-per-view. The boxing undercard, Latin Fury, shown on June 28 of 2003, became ESPN's first boxing pay-per-view card and also the first pay-per-view boxing card held in Puerto Rico. Pay-per-view is also a very important revenue stream for professional wrestling companies like WWE, which shows 14+ pay-per-view events a year, and NWA:TNA, which initially offered weekly pay-per-view in lieu of a national cable television show. They plan to move to a more conventional monthly format after completing a new cable contract.


In the U.S., DirecTV, a direct-to-home (DTH) digital broadcast satellite (DBS) provider, allows customers to order with the remote control. The unit later calls out using an 800 number and connects via modem, adding the cost of the movie to the account. Digital cable subscribers also have this capability, using the bidirectional capabilities of digital cable technology instead of a telephone line. Similar systems are in use by Foxtel and Optus in Australia.


Pay-per-view has also been introduced in Europe and many other areas of the World.


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