premium television or webcast event programming that requires payment to view
(Redirected from Video on demand)

Pay-per-view (often abbreviated PPV) is a way that people can pay to watch events on television in their homes. The event is shown at the same time to everyone ordering it. This is different than video on demand systems which lets people see the event at any time. Common events include movies, sporting events, and pornographic movies.

The first major pay-per-view event was on September 16, 1981. This event was Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns for the Welterweight Championship. Viacom Cablevision in Nashville, Tennessee, was the first system to offer the event. Over fifty percent of its customers paid to see the fight.[source?] Oak Industries Entertainment VP of Programming, Nyhl Henson, put together the fight. He later put together other PPV fights, wrestling matches, and even a Broadway play.

After leaving Viacom, Thompson became head of Sports View. He produced the first pay-per-view football game on October 16, 1983.[source?] Sports View was important in creating pay-per-view networks. It was a part of creating TigerVision for LSU, TideVision for Alabama, and UT Vol Seat for Tennessee. Sports View also produced the Ohio State-Michigan Football game on PPV in November of 1983.

In 1985, the first U.S. cable channels to show only pay-per-view, Viewers Choice, Cable Video Store, and Request TV began operation within days of each other. Viewers Choice was available to both home satellite dish and cable customers. Request TV was available to only cable viewers at first. Dish owners could not use it until the 1990s.

The term "pay-per-view" became more well known in the 1990s when companies like iN DEMAND, HBO, and Showtime started using it to show movies and other things. In Demand would show movies, concerts, and other events at prices between $3.99 to $49.99. HBO and Showtime would offer championship boxing, with prices between $14.99 to $54.99.[source?]

Pay-per-view is also a very important way for professional wrestling companies like World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) , Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) , Ring of Honor (ROH) and Asistencia Asesoría y Administración to earn money.

Early History (Americas)


The first pay-per-view system tested in the United states was the Zenith Phonevision system. In 1949, it used telephone lines to take and receive orders. The telephone lines were also used to descramble the signal on the television. Tests were run for 90 days in Chicago. In 1950, Skiatron tested its system on WOR in New York City. The system used IBM punch cards to descramble the signal. Both systems showed that they could be used but were not allowed to be used by the FCC.[1]

One of the first pay-per-view systems on cable was the Optical Systems. It was first used in 1972 in San Diego.[2] These early systems quickly went out of business, as the cable industry started using satellite technology. This caused systems, for example Home Box Office, to became popular.

History (Europe)


Pay-per-view was first used in the United Kingdom with the use of satellite television and cable systems.

History (Australia, NZ & Pacific Islands)


Pay-per-view was first used by Foxtel to home television in Australia and New Zealand in the early 2000s. Sky Pacific in Fiji and other Pacific Island Nations started using it in 2006.


  1. FCC Squares Off to Face Subscription TV Dilemma", Broadcasting-Telecasting, November 15, 1954, p31-32
  2. Mullen, Megan (23 June 2009). The Rise of Cable Programming in the United States: Revolution or Evolution?. University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-77869-6.

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