It is highly probable that many requests for the same service (popular/hot videos) arrive at the service provider in a short time or even simultaneously in a pay-TV system. In conventional schemes, for nonrepudiation of communication, the service provider verifies each service request signed by subscribers one by one, which results in a high computation burden and long delay. In this paper, we propose an efficient privacy-preserving authentication mechanism for mobile pay-TV systems. The mechanism adopts batch verification technique, allowing the service provider to verify multiple requests from different subscribers in a batch manner instead of one by one. In addition, a hand-off authentication mechanism with privacy preserving based on proxy signature cryptography is also proposed to support mobile pay-TV systems. With the proxy signature technique, the communication is only between a subscriber and a new transmitter while the head end system is no longer involved during hand-off. Simulation results show that even in the case of high bogus request ratio (p = 25 %), batch verification still excels individual verification in performance. Moreover, the proposed protocol only requires point multiplication operations on subscribers. Therefore, this scheme enjoys computation and communication efficiency compared with the existing schemes. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.