How WWE Changed The Way You Watch Media

How WWE Changed The Way You Watch Media WWE, Netflix

Over the last 50 years, how we have consumed wrestling content has changed drastically.

From closed circuit TV, to PPV, to VHS, to DVD, to Blu-Ray, to streaming services; how we watch things we enjoy at home has undergone a gigantic and essentially irreversible transformation.

And did you know that WWE has been at the forefront of every single one of those changes over the last 50+ years?

WWE has, for all intents and purposes, helped transform the way we consume wrestling media. And this is present across every single decade of the company’s existence, from PPVs in the 1980s to its groundbreaking deal with Netflix in the 2020s.

So how did this happen? How did this pro wrestling company, to some degree, ostensibly change western media culture? This is how WWE changed the way you watch media. 


Before the invention and nationalisation of pay-per-view events, there was a system called CCTV, or Closed Circuit Television. CCTV was typically used to broadcast live events to specific places, like arenas or theatres.

Audiences would purchase tickets to these venues and watch the events broadcast on a big screen, which funnily enough is something that has come back into fashion in the last few years. Because time is a flat circle.

CCTV was a fine idea, as it allowed people who couldn’t attend a live event in person to watch it in a different venue.

But what if you could take the idea of CCTV and put it in someone’s home so they didn’t even have to leave the house to see it?

This was the birth of pay-per-view. And it’s quite literal in its meaning – audiences would now be paying for each view of the event, rather than venues broadcasting the event to a large crowd of people.

This transition from CCTV to PPV began in the late 70s and early 80s, with the first true direct-to-home PPV event being credited to the boxing match between Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns in 1981.

The event was available to cable viewers who paid an extra fee to watch the fight live; the earliest form of what would become PPV.

This is where wrestling comes into our story. However, contrary to what WWE will want you to believe, WrestleMania I was, in fact, not the first wrestling PPV.

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5 months ago by Jamie Toolan


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