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CBS to Live Stream Showtime’s Mayweather-Berto Fight

Broadcaster's move may be aimed as much at piracy as driving up PPV, CBS All Access subscribers

CBS will stream Showtime’s pay-per-view fight between Floyd Mayweather and Andre Berto to the event’s paying customers on Saturday — a move that may be as much about countering piracy as promoting the Eye’s subscription businesses.

The fight in Las Vegas will be available to Showtime PPV subs who fork over $64.99 on TV, as well as live on computers and mobile devices via cbs.com/fight. It’s the first time a Showtime boxing match will be streamed (legally) over the Internet.

In addition, CBS is throwing in a free three-month trial of CBS All Access, its $5.99-per-month VOD service, as part of the deal.

Clearly, the Eye is hoping to drive up PPV sales for the fight — which Mayweather says will be the last one of his career — by including 90 days of All Access for free, and it’s angling to convert those viewers into paying OTT members past that.

But CBS also is likely trying to provide an alternative to pirates who may be planning to pilfer the TV feed and share it online, either for fun or profit.

Ahead of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight this May, which was carried by both HBO and Showtime, the premium networks sued to stop two sites from streaming the event. Meanwhile, dozens of unauthorized broadcasts cropped up on Twitter’s Periscope and Meerkat, resulting in a threefold spike in usage on the apps on fight night.

Dick Costolo, who was then CEO of Twitter, posted a tweet after Mayweather prevailed over Pacquiao boasting, “And the winner is… @periscopeco,” to the consternation of cable execs. The event’s rights-holders sent Twitter at least 66 takedown requests for users sharing live video streams.

A CBS rep declined to comment on whether the live-streaming access was motivated by piracy concerns.

The Sept. 12 Mayweather-Berto welterweight world championship bout, to be held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, is promoted by Mayweather Promotions. The event will be produced and distributed by Showtime.

In addition to the main event, the live stream will also feature three undercard fights, kicking off at 5 p.m. PT, following the weigh-in at 3 p.m. PT.

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