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Two live-streaming sites squashed, but many will watch Mayweather-Pacquiao free—legally and illegally

By Deon Freeman / May 1, 2015 / Tags: , ,

Sites announce plans to live-stream Mayweather v. Pacquiao, but take a punch from networks. Who will win the piracy fight in the “Fight of the Century”?

200px-Mayweather_Pacquiao_Official_Poster

The “Fight of the Century” is shaping up to be every bit as huge as the predictions. When Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao touch gloves on Saturday night, millions of people around the world will be watching. But how many will watch Mayweather-Pacquiao live via unsanctioned broadcasts? Networks and promoters are trying to shut down sites that say they’ll live-stream the action—but how successful can they be?

HBO and Showtime have exclusive rights to broadcast the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight in the US. It will be available on Pay-Per-View for around $100.

But already the networks are fighting piracy. Two websites announced they would be live-streaming Mayweather-Pacquiao online for free for fans to watch.

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Both of those sites, boxinghd.net and sportship.org, have been hit with a federal complaint filed by the networks along with Top Rank and Mayweather Productions. The complaint asks for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.

It also asks for damages to compensate for financial losses and legal costs. This marks the first time a lawsuit has been filed over illegal broadcasting that has yet to take place.

It’s a strong move against piracy and probably intended to set an example prior to the fight. Indeed, the stakes have never been higher.

Pay-Per-View revenues are expected to break all previous records. But that’s only if illegal live-streaming can be stamped out.

Given that the fight is, of course, live preventing piracy will present a big challenge. It’s easy to take down illegal videos of the fight posted after it’s over. But cracking down on live streams as the action plays out is another story.

Making matters more difficult for networks is the international scene. Fans in the Philippines will be able to watch Mayweather-Pacquiao live for free on cable and free-to-air TV. It would be fairly simple for an individual to live-stream the action playing on their TV set to a broad online audience.

In fact, there are apps that would let someone do just that. Twitter’s Periscope and the popular Meerkat app let users stream live video to Twitter fans, all for free.

Viewers in Mexico will also be able to watch the fight free from Televisa and Azteca TV companies. People in the UK, Spain and Scandinavia will be able to purchase access for significantly less than US fans.

HBO and Showtime clearly have a massive fight of their own ahead. The two sites named in the lawsuit have indeed been taken offline. But how many more will spring up in their place on fight night? With so many millions at stake, there are sure to be those willing to take the gamble.

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