What is Pay TV, anyway?
While it’s a bit of a catch-all term that is sometimes used to describe any form of TV service that’s paid for rather than received for free, in Australia the term “pay TV” has historically referred to the various services that have appeared since 1995. They provide access to extra broadcast TV channels that are unique to the service – a novel concept to Australians when it first started.
Delivery of those channels can be through several forms – via a network of fibre and analogue cables laid out in many capital cities (very similar to the Fibre to the Node networks now being rolled out for broadband), via the internet or, most commonly these days, as a transmission from a dedicated TV satellite to a dish on your home or building’s roof (yes, television from space!).
You subscribe to pay TV by paying a base monthly rate. This gives you access to a core set of channels. Then, you add extra “packs” or groups of channels depending on your interests (sports, movies, lifestyle, and so on). In that regard, the system has more in common with the UK pay TV format that the US one. In the US, pay TV is largely delivered via cable and is very often tied to a home broadband service as a package. In Australia, though you can get a broadband service via the pay TV cable, it’s relatively uncommon, and becomes more so as more people opt for a satellite-based delivery.