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Brekkie32,362 posts since 4 Jan 2003
HTV Wales Wales Today
So three non-world title fights on TV tonight - one airing free to air on C5, one on subscription TV (Sky Sports) and one on ITV Box Office.

An open question really but why do we think boxing has largely seen it's big events on pay-per-view TV in the UK and US while other sports have largely not gone down that route, or when they have it's not lasted very long, and that is both here and in the US. It's only other fighting (or in the case of wrestling, "fighting") sports that have gone down that route.

Wikipedia has a bit about the history of it in the US - the first attempt way back in 1951 was rejected by the FCC, but the Thriller in Manilla in 1975 was the first major pay-per-view boxing events. No information about the history in the UK but I guess Sky threw the money around in the early nineties.
I preferred the internet when it had a sense of humour.
Neil Jones5,574 posts since 23 Dec 2001
Central (West) Midlands Today
Boxing is a sport I've never understood. Two people stand in a square ring and bash each other's brains out while getting all horrible and sweaty over 12 rounds of three minutes each, first to keel over, get injured enough or die loses. I may have made one of these up. Wink

As to the venture towards pay-per-view - well its obviously all about the money, surely? Not quite sure what the sports gets out of it as opposed to the money in football which, it is stated, feeds the grassroots of that sport but can't be sure if a similar thing happens to whatever the boxing equivalent of football grassroots is - after all hardly a month goes by when its apparently too dangerous these days for kids to do all kinds of things we all managed to survive doing - box, British Bulldog, conkers - but that's a different topic.

Of course back in the old days when we only had four channels the boxing wasn't live all the time, in fact I think a lot of it was effectively relegated to the likes of Grandstand and World of Sport as highlights packages.
MY83518 posts since 16 Nov 2016
Simply: money. The boxers, especially in big marquee fights like world titles or grudge matches, get a share of the PPV monies.

I remember PPV becoming a big issue around 1994ish when people first cottoned on to the fact they were essentially paying a month's subscription worth of £ for what could turn out to be a 30-second event.
Neil Jones5,574 posts since 23 Dec 2001
Central (West) Midlands Today
Yeah but not really any different from actually going to an event itself - technically that is pay per view in the traditional sense as you pay to go to the venue. All pay-per-view for TV did was cut out the cumbersome stuff between leaving the house and watching the event (travel, parking, entering, getting food, finding a good viewing spot, being nagged to spend a fortune on some glossy paraphernalia, etc) and yes it costs more to do it this way to watch at home but I suppose its convenience at the end of the day.
sbahnhof 7225 posts since 29 Oct 2016
(or in the case of wrestling, "fighting")


Fighting for credibility Smile

Maybe the difference is the one-off nature of bouts – there's not a 'season' or a single league to follow in boxing. (I'm not sure how it works in MMA, or how anything works in MMA.)

Sky Box Office had some concerts and football on PPV in the late '90s. Then there were those football PPVs in England, Premiership Plus for six years, which must've done decent business, to persevere with them for that long, until Sky's rights monopoly ended. Is it possible PremPlus would've continued if the rules hadn't changed?

I'd guess most broadcasters found they made more money selling sport en masse, and not splitting off events. We don't think of Sky Sports and BT Sport as "pay-per-view", expensive as they are. But Sky's brave new world of the golf channel does feel a bit closer to PPV – in targeting smaller groups of fans for fewer events.
toby lerone 2016467 posts since 13 Jul 2016
UTV Newsline
(or in the case of wrestling, "fighting")


Fighting for credibility Smile

Maybe the difference is the one-off nature of bouts – there's not a 'season' or a single league to follow in boxing. (I'm not sure how it works in MMA, or how anything works in MMA.)

Sky Box Office had some concerts and football on PPV in the late '90s. Then there were those football PPVs in England, Premiership Plus for six years, which must've done decent business, to persevere with them for that long, until Sky's rights monopoly ended. Is it possible PremPlus would've continued if the rules hadn't changed?

I'd guess most broadcasters found they made more money selling sport en masse, and not splitting off events. We don't think of Sky Sports and BT Sport as "pay-per-view", expensive as they are. But Sky's brave new world of the golf channel does feel a bit closer to PPV – in targeting smaller groups of fans for fewer events.


Remember Sky did the showdown on pay per view in 2004 between BDO World Darts Champion Andy Fordham and PDC World Darts Champion Phil Taylor but that event had the problem of Fordham retiring early but as darts is a minority sport I doubt a PPV would ever work like that again. They have since done cross promotion BDO/PDC events such as the Grand Slam of Darts but it would be futile running an event like that now as much as I like BDO Darts it would be unlikely they would beat the PDC champion.
UKnews845 posts since 26 Apr 2011
Wikipedia has a bit about the history of it in the US - the first attempt way back in 1951 was rejected by the FCC, but the Thriller in Manilla in 1975 was the first major pay-per-view boxing events. No information about the history in the UK but I guess Sky threw the money around in the early nineties.

I think there were limited experiments with horse racing and films in the 1960s on the small scale cable systems in the UK. The government wouldn’t allow them to expand so it never developed from there.


Sky’s first PPV event was the Bruno v Tyson fight in 1996.

In late 1997 they started offering films for £3 around six months before they were shown on Sky Movies / The Movie Channel. The cable companies started their own offering not long after.

Concerts were a sporadic and eclectic offering but I can remember Simply Red, Steps, Cliff Richard being amongst the acts people were asked to cough up £9.99 to watch live. There was a Robbie Williams concert not long after HD launched (so 2006), I can’t remember many being advertised since then. Not all concerts Sky had during that time were PPV though, quite a few were on Sky 1- I can remember Oasis at Wembley in 2000 being shown on Sky 1 the same night it was taking place, on an hour or so delay.

Not sure when the wrestling PPVs started (not my thing), in the 1990s I think they were all on Sky Sports - having started on Sky Movies Plus before Sky Sports became a premium channel. There was a period in the early 2000s where what were US PPVs were split between Sky Sports and Channel 4 (the latter on delay with ads), I think half of them went onto PPV when Sky got them all back. As for MMA I think UFC have regular PPVs but they are on BT Sport in the UK as far as I know.

The first PPV football match in the UK was a football league Division 1 (as was) game on Sky Box Office in the late 90s. It ended up a 0-0 draw and there were no more until the Premier Leage sold a package of PPV games from the 2001 season. NTL bought them (to be available on all platforms) but handed then back when they realised they’d never make their money back and the Premier League got Sky to produce the coverage and sold them to each provider (with ‘ITV Sport Select’ doing their own pre and post match coverage for the one season they existed). Even during the first season you could buy a ‘season ticket’ that worked out at about £1 per game, much cheaper than the £8 per game to buy individually. When the next deal was done Sky bought the rights direct and just made the amount of games they were allowed to (50 I think) PPV. They were never the biggest games, the games on Sky Sports were the first picks, these were the additional games. In effect they became the package Setanta bought.

As for the US its worth realising that that before PPV the biggest boxing fights were on the whole only shown live in ‘theatres’ on ‘closed circuit television’. (I believe one of the reasons it started was to get the venues full on quiet mid week nights, so many of the biggest boxing matches all the way through to the 80/ took place on mid week nights.) So there wasn’t the history (as in this country) of them being on FTA TV. It appears home PPV started along side and eventually took over from the fights being shown in cinemas. HBO came along and showed some as part of their subscription channel (as they and Showtime still do for lower profile fights) before home PPV took off in the 80s and 90s.

I have heard that in the 1970s some of the very biggest fights - Muhammad Ali ones in particular - were shown live in a small number of cinemas in the UK. This, I think, was largely down to the cost of the live rights to the BBC or ITV being too much to justify when judged on the number of people who would watch it live. The BBC had shown the Muhammad Ali (or Cassius Clay as he was at the time) v Sonny Liston fight live in 1964 - the first boxing match to be shown live via satellite. (The US ‘theatre’ coverage mentions it being shown in some cinemas in Europe as well.) Something like 4 million people watched it live but then an even bigger number watched the repeat that evening. So why pay for the live rights (and technical expense of showing it at 4am) when many more people would watch it the following evening. Different times and all that! That approach held through even until the first Bruno v Tyson fight in 1989 - broadcast live on Radio 2 but shown on BBC 1 (to a big audience) the following afternoon. (Although that fight was one of the first big events Sky showed live.)

Big fights in the UK (although not the ‘infamous’ Ali v Henry Cooper fight I don’t think) tended to be live on FTA until Sky signed up Frank Warren (the key UK promoter at the time) in 1995. The BBC gradually moved away as the prices went up but ITV had carried on with delyed coverage of big US fights and the likes of Bruno and Eubank live - although only ever the main fight.
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Xilla214 posts since 29 Nov 2003
Do Sky still heavily advertise WWE PPVs on Sky Box Office? It's all a bit redundant now that the WWE Network exists for a tenner a month and you get at least 2 of them. Plus the whole back catalogue.
dvboy9,901 posts since 11 Jan 2003
Central (West) Midlands Today
How much do pubs pay for PPV fights? I dont know the first thing about boxing but there was one earlier this year where people were literally spilling out onto the street to watch it at some of the bars down Broad Street in Birmingham. It must bring them in a lot of business as people aren't prepared to pay to watch it at home.
Watch it and find out.
Inspector Sands13,923 posts since 25 Aug 2004

Maybe the difference is the one-off nature of bouts – there's not a 'season' or a single league to follow in boxing.

Yes I think that's it. Although there are presumably boxing matches regularly, it's only the big champion deciders that are worth hyping up and selling.


Though one disadvantage to boxing as a PPV event is that it's one match of non fixed length. You could pay £20 for 3 minutes of action. The recent big PPV event on Sky had 5 hours of build up, would have loved it if it had ended in the first round
Last edited by Inspector Sands on 8 October 2017 9:37am
Hatton Cross3,318 posts since 4 Jan 2003
Central (West) Midlands Today
And of course F1 Digital +. Which lasted in the UK all of one season, although was running for a few years before quite sucessfully in Europe. That was sold on a full season, half season or race weekend basis.

In fact the DNA runs of that project still runs very deep today, as the FOM TV world feed production of every race, is borne out of that venture.
My user name might look like Hatton Cross, but it's pronounced Throatwobbler Mangrove.