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Pay-per-view (often abbreviated PPV) is the system in which television viewers can purchase events to be seen on TV and pay for the private telecast of that event to their homes. The event is shown at the same time to everyone ordering it, as opposed to video on demand systems, which allow viewers to see the event at any time. Events can be purchased using an on-screen guide, an automated telephone system, or through a live customer service representative. Events include feature films, sporting events, and pornographic movies.

Pay per view began becoming popular when the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers began using the system after winning the championship in the 1977 season. During that time, it was operated on a few pay-TV services such as Z Channel, SelecTV, and ON-TV in select markets throughout the 1980s.

The first major Pay-Per View event occurred on September 16, 1981, when Sugar Ray Leonard fought Thomas "Hitman" Hearns for the Welterweight Championship. Viacom Cablevision in Nashville, Tennessee, was the first system to offer the event and sold over fifty percent of its subscribers for the fight. Leonard visited Nashville to promote the fight. The event was such a huge success that Viacom's Annual Report that year was themed around the fight. Viacom's Marketing Director was Pat Thompson who put together the fight and subsequently put together additional PPV fights, wrestling matches, and even a Broadway play.

After leaving Viacom, Thompson became head of Sports View and produced the first Pay-Per-View Football game on October 16, 1983, Tennessee versus Alabama from Birmingham, Alabama. Sports View was instrumental in building Pay-Per-View Networks and was the early pioneer in developing 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 devoted to Pay-Per-View Viewers Choice (now iN DEMAND), 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, while Request was available to cable viewers but would not be available to dish owners until the 1990s.

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, 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 and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA). To this day, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) holds the rank for most PPV's sold per year. However, 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 that tracks the industry, "UFC has reinvigorated the pay-per-view category."

It should be said though, that while UFC turns in consistently higher numbers on a show-by-show basis, they are yet to produce an event which comes anywhere near the juggernaut success of a big prizefight. In May 2007, the Oscar De La Hoya VS Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight on HBO PPV not only became the biggest selling non-heavyweight title fight of all time, but the biggest of all time period, with 2.5 million buyers. The fight itself generated roughly $134.4 million dollars in domestic PPV revenue, making it the richest prizefight of all time. And proving this PPV success was no fluke, December 2007's Floyd Mayweather Jr. VS Ricky Hatton fight is on-track to sell well over 1.5 million PPV buys, making Mayweather the only non-heavyweight fighter of all-time to sell two million-plus selling PPV bouts in one calendar year.

The leading PPV king is of course Oscar De La Hoya though, who has sold approximately 12.8 million units total, to the sweet tune of $612 million in domestic television receipts. In second place in buys is Evander Holyfield, with 12.6 million units ($543 million), and in third in Mike Tyson, with 12.4 million units ($545 million). (Credit ESPN Boxing).

(Credit: Wikipedia)






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