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It’s showtime for pay-per-view, and for carrier billing

By Anthony Baladi, commercial director, Fonix

Most of us can remember a time when our television only had five channels. What you spent your evenings watching was dictated by what these few channels were showing, and if a sports fixture wasn’t televised, you either heard about it on the radio or you read about it the paper the next day.

We’ve come a long way since then, with many of us now having hundreds of channels to choose from. On the surface, TV lovers in the UK appear to have it all, spoilt for choice with channels and subscriptions.

However, not everyone wants to commit financially to a channel long term or pay a subscription. According to Ofcom, 2018 marked a turning point in British viewing habits, with the number of subscriptions to video streaming services like Netflix and NOW TV overtaking those to traditional pay-TV for the first time. The evidence is clear: consumers don’t want to choose by channel, they want to choose by programme. This trend is particularly prevalent when it comes to sport, with viewers often choosing to watch specific games or tournaments.

Pay-per-view (PPV) tackles this head on, allowing a consumer to purchase a single fixture with a one-off payment. It means not having to financially commit to a whole package or channel, and that you’re only paying for the content that really matters to you. Consumers are increasingly choosing to access content in this way; according to MMA Fighting, UFC 232, which featured a main event bout between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson earlier this month, brought in an estimated 700,000 PPV buys.

PPV appeals to impulse purchasing – no one commits to a whole channel on an impulse, but they might commit to a fixture last minute if it only costs them £20. This is particularly true if the payment models are fast, and the fixture can be purchased in seconds on a whim. There is enormous opportunity for sports broadcasters to adopt slick payment models to provide an efficient service that will encourage viewers to follow through on their impulsive decisions.

Carrier billing allows for payments to be made in seconds, as instead of needing to input their credit card details, viewers are able to simply charge the costs to their mobile phone bills. Being able to pay so quickly allows viewers to decide just before the event that they want to pay for and watch it, meaning they won’t miss out on the action.

PPV has been embraced by British viewers, so it’s time for television services to capitalise on this by making it as easy as possible when it comes to paying. They should be giving viewers what they want: their favourite shows on demand, without the added faff.