For many cord-cutters, there’s one thing that you might be sorely missing: Pay-Per-View. Whether you want WWE, UFC, or boxing matches, those events are quite often locked behind PPV, which typically requires a cable subscription.
This means that, unfortunately, PPV is not easy to get without cable. That said, there are a few options to watch PPV events without cable, making it possible to cut the cord and still watch great on-demand competitive matches.
Your Top Options to Watch PPV Without Cable
Cutting the cord usually allows you to still get access to all of the great content available through traditional cable. However, Pay-Per-View appears to be the last holdout for most cord-cutting services.
There are only a limited number of available streaming services that will provide you with some (but not all) PPV viewing options.
The biggest problem with Pay-Per-View? Almost every event is broadcast not only from different locations but by different providers. The chosen network or broadcaster often depends on how the promoters and athletes work out their compensation deals.
Based on our research, we found there’s pretty much no consistency in how and where you can access PPV. And unfortunately, no one cord-cutting service is going to get you access to every PPV event.
That said, there are several options to consider that will grant at least some access to various PPV events.
You may have heard about Sling TV. This DISH Network-owned streaming service was one of the first to launch on the market and helped define what cord-cutting for live TV currently looks like. It’s also the only live TV cord-cutting service that offers Pay-Per-View events.
Yes, you read that right. It’s the only option for cord-cutters who want to have an internet TV “skinny bundle” that offers PPV.
Sling TV offers 3 separate subscription packages, but you can use Pay-Per-View with any one of them. So, whether you’re signed up to the Sling Orange ($25/month), Sling Blue ($25/month) or Sling Blue + Orange ($40/month) subscription, you can watch PPV events separately by following a few steps.
Unsure of how to access PPV on Sling TV? Here’s how.
Step 1: Sign for a Sling TV account
Your first step is to sign up for a Sling TV account. Again, any one of the three service packages will do if you want to get access to Sling TV, so choose whichever package best suits your needs.
Both Sling Orange and Sling Blue are priced the same. However, they offer different channels. Sling Orange has 30 channels, with ESPN, Disney, HGTV, and History Channel as the premier networks. Sling Blue offers features Fox Sports (FS1 and FS2), NBC Sports Network, and local broadcasts for Fox and NBC. Sling Blue has 40+ channels.
You can get 53+ channels if you combine the two packages for $40 per month.
Step 2: Log into your account
Your next step is simple: log into your account! You should have created the proper credentials during sign-up, so all you need is your email and password.
Step 3: Go to your account settings
Now, go to your account settings under “My Account”. You can get there by clicking on the small “person” symbol on the top right of the screen.
From there, you should see a PPV event banner on the bottom right that says “Sling Pay-Per-View”. Click on it to proceed to the next step.
Step 4: Choose your PPV event and pay
Once you select your PPV event, Sling TV will take you to a payment page. Simply select “purchase”. Sling TV will automatically bill your stored credit card.
Step 5: Locate your new PPV channel
Once you have paid for your Pay-Per-View event, Sling TV will add a new channel for that event to your channel lineup. If you don’t see it on your Sling TV app, simply reset the app and log back in. It should be the first channel in your lineup.
Top-billed UFC fights are almost always locked behind Pay-Per-View, so you’ll need a good source to access them. Thankfully, the UFC offers it own cord-cutting Pay-Per-View service that lets you watch different matches, although at a somewhat steep price at times.
If you head over to UFC.tv, you can purchase PPV access to certain events. The events you can purchase change over time, and some events that are advertised on their event calendar may not be available for purchase yet.
However, you can easily buy access to events by clicking on the event you want in the drop-down menu on the Pay-Per-View page, and then clicking “Continue” to purchase.
UFC also bundles access to their Fight Pass streaming service, which lets you watch a large number of UFC matches live and on-demand.
Note that a Fight Pass subscription will NOT grant you access to the Pay-Per-View events. UFC separates out the two, so, annoyingly, you’ll still need to purchase some events via PPV even with a Fight Pass subscription.
UFC fans can also use Amazon Prime Video to get UFC PPV matches. If you have an Amazon Prime Video account, you can purchase access to specific events through Amazon’s channels features.
Simply look up the event you want to stream (such as UFC 227: Gillashaw vs. Garbrand 2), and click on it to purchase viewing access. Amazon will bill your credit card on record.
Note that Amazon often lists events before they’re available, so you may have to wait for a bit before you can hit the “Rent” button.
Much like the UFC, the WWE has its own streaming service. You can sign up for the WWE Network for $9.99 per month. WWE offers a one-month free trial as well.
With your WWE subscription, you’ll get access to all WWE events, including Pay-Per-View matches, for the price of your subscription.
If you’re a WWE fan, this is great news, as it means you can save a lot of money over buying access to PPV events every time. And unlike UFC, you don’t need to pay separately for those PPV events once you have a subscription to the monthly service.
Other Options for Pay-Per-View Without Cable
Sling TV might be the only cord-cutting internet TV service with a legitimate Pay-Per-View at the moment, but there are other options you may want to consider.
Much like fuboTV, DAZN (pronounced “Da Zone”) is a sports-centric streaming service. Originally founded and offered in the UK, the service has since spread to other European countries, as well as Japan and Canada.
DAZN has now launched in America, and offers the promise of something that might get cord-cutters excited: a streamlined approach to Pay-Per-View.
According to the website Sporting News, the service hopes to “fix” the “broken PPV model in the US.” What does that mean, exactly? Apparently, that means offering a low, monthly subscription model that will offer PPV events without having to constantly pay for each event as they come.
In explaining how and why they can fix this PPV broken system, DAZN CEO James Rushton explained:
“We can do that because we don’t have the overhead associated with a big network like ESPN. Part of it was very much thinking about how badly screwed U.S. fight fans have been over the past 30 years by pay-per-view fights. I was talking to Eddie (Hearn). It actually has, in my opinion, broken the U.S. fight eco-system.”
It appears that Rushton and DAZN are on the right track. The streaming service already has contracts in place with the World Boxing Super Series, the MMA promoter Bellator, and the British boxing promoter Matchroom Boxing.
The first PPV fight offered by DAZN post-launch was between Anthony Joshua v. Alexander Povetkin on September 22. If the fight was offered in the US through normal PPV channels, it would have been over $20 to access. UK fans who wanted to watch, for example, need to pay over $25 USD to access.
Through DAZN, though, subscribers were able to watch Joshua v. Povetkin, and will also be able to watch over 60 more fight nights for just $9.99 per month.
DAZN looks to be a very solid option for PPV sports fans. Check out our full DAZN review now, and see if this new streaming service might be right for you.
If you’re a boxing fan, Showtime might be a good alternative to PPV for you. Showtime hosts a large number of boxing matches, and you can access these matches on Showtime through any cord-cutting service where Showtime is available.
This actually makes Showtime a much better option than HBO, as HBO does not provide access to its HBO Boxing service without a traditional cable provider.
None of the cord-cutting internet TV streaming services offer Showtime as an included channel in their basic channel packages, as it’s a premium service. You will still need to purchase it for an extra fee as an add-on channel. However, most of the streaming services will let you add it on, and usually at the same price ($10.99 per month).
All of the following streaming services carry Showtime as an add-on channel:
- Sling TV
- YouTube TV
- Hulu with Live TV
- DirecTV Now
- Amazon Prime Video
- PlayStation Vue*
Showtime also has a standalone streaming app for the same price. You’ll get Showtime live and on-demand, including the sports options, at no additional cost beyond what you’d pay for an add-on to the other streaming services.
*PlayStation Vue lets you purchase Showtime for just $8.99 per month if you also have PlayStation Plus subscription.
Can I Watch HBO Boxing Without Cable?
Yes and no.
You can get access to boxing matches covered by HBO Boxing if you have a subscription to HBO through any cord-cutting service that offers it. All of the cord-cutting services that provide Showtime also provide HBO, so you can sign up through any of them. You can also sign up to HBO’s standalone streaming service to get access to HBO Boxing.
However, here’s the rub. With the exception of Sling TV, if you don’t have a traditional cable TV service, you can’t order HBO’s PPV events, and that means you can’t get those events live.
So even with an HBO account, you’ll only get access to the HBO Boxing events after they’ve aired. You’ll be able to watch them on-demand sometime following the event, but not live, as you would with HBO’s other content.
Why is Pay-Per-View Difficult to Stream Without Cable?
For US residents, Pay-Per-View without cable is a huge headache. In fact, it’s a huge headache – even with a cable subscription. There are some reasons for this which are hard to counteract.
First, the biggest issue with Pay-Per-View in the US is that promoters have to sign deals for every single matchup. This means, for example, that every boxing match goes through a negotiation process between the two fighters’ promoters, who eventually come to terms over where the match will be held.
That agreement also has to include who will broadcast the event – if it gets broadcast at all – something that can cause a rift between the different promoters.
At times, this has resulted in last-minute announcements for when and where to watch matches, and some PPV matches have even been cancelled last minute, much to the disappointment of combat sports fans.
Secondly, most streaming services attempt to minimize how complicated their services are. As shown above, Sling TV is a bit of a loner in the streaming services market in offering Pay-Per-View, and it’s not exactly a simple process to watch PPV on Sling.
This is not really Sling TV’s fault, however. The Pay-Per-View model has been broken and complicated in the US for some time now. The cord-cutting revolution has really highlighted how difficult it is to access Pay-Per-View matches without cable.
Because of this, we expect that more options for viewing PPV events without cable will emerge in the coming years. It’s also possible that more streaming services, such as DAZN, will begin to offer PPV events, and change the way that PPV is offered in America — for the better.