Last Saturday night’s (August 26, 2017) massively anticipated Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor boxing match from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada is expected to go down as quite possibly the biggest pay-per-view (PPV) boxing event ever at a price tag of $99.95 plus tax (US) for the monumental super fight in high definition (HD).
However, also as expected, many so-called fight fans chose to stream the fight illegally rather than pay said price tag, and that resulted in a huge deluge of pirated streams, of which 239 were reported. According to numbers published by Variety, that resulted in 2.93 million viewers illegally viewing the fight:
“The Aug. 26 match from Las Vegas yielded 239 illegal live-streamed rebroadcasts online, reaching an estimated 2.93 million viewers worldwide, according to content-security vendor Irdeto. Of those, 67 were hosted on well-known piracy streaming websites. Pirates also used services including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter’s Periscope, Amazon-owned Twitch and media-player platform Kodi to illegally redistribute the highly anticipated event, according to Irdeto.
It’s not clear how big an impact the piracy of the Mayweather-McGregor fight had on PPV purchases through Showtime Networks, which charged $99.95 to access the live event. Not everyone who accessed the illegal streams, after all, would have paid to watch the legal broadcast even if the pirated versions weren’t available. The event has been projected to gross upwards of $1 billion in PPV revenue, which would shatter previous records.”
However, another report from Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole suggests that the number is far, far more at up to 100 million illegal stream viewers, making it absolutely dwarf the upwards of 5 million viewers who paid for the card, which Dana White proclaimed was trending to break the previous record of 4.6 million buys set by Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. It’s also a number that will even potentially make it the most pirated sports event of all time.
While that’s an alarming number to be certain, it may be hard to find too many combat sports fan willing to be sorry for the promoters of such a spectacle, which is set to gross a record-setting $1 billion dollars in PPV revenue.
The number of illegal viewers may have also been increased by the fact that UFC Fight Pass and other streaming and PPV services experienced some significant technical difficulties with the main card, which certainly may have frustrated some viewers to go the nefarious route of streaming it for free. They most likely won’t be getting refunds for the card they already paid for, however, making a frustration pirated stream a moot point – and an illegal one at that.
Regardless, Mayweather vs. McGregor is going to gain a record-breaking haul. But it could have been much more based on the sheer number of viewers who pirated the fight online.