When pay-per-view TV got its start

Stacey Vanek Smith Jan 1, 2007
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Getty Images

When pay-per-view TV got its start

Stacey Vanek Smith Jan 1, 2007
Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Time to open up the Marketplace vault and take a peek at this week in the history of business. And today we find . . . Hmmm . . . looks like an old cable TV box and a look at a television revolution.


STACEY VANEK-SMITH: This week back in 1951, television first dipped its toe into the world of pay-per-view. The Zenith Radio Corporation selected 300 families and sent several movies over the airways with scrambled signals.

Participants could call in to decode the films. The selection included “Homecoming,” with Clark Gable and Lana Turner, and “Welcome Stranger,” starring Bing Crosby.

Each movie cost a dollar. During the four-week trial, the families ordered 2,600 films But pay-per-view didn’t really take off until the 60s, when cable started to become more popular.

Cable companies still offer pay-per-view movies. But these days, the service is usually the turf of major sports events.

I’m Stacey Vanek-Smith.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.