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.
Official pay-per-view results have yet to be released; Fathom Events’ theatrical distribution of the fight garnered $2.6 million from 534 theaters.
In addition to the live-streaming piracy, an estimated 445,000 internet users downloaded video of the fight after it concluded Saturday, including 78,000 in the U.S. and 49,000 in the U.K. and Ireland, according to piracy-tracking firm Tecxipio.
Some fight fans may have turned to piracy after the official live stream of the fight suffered technical issues Saturday, which delayed the start time of the Mayweather-McGregor main event. Customers who had paid for the fight through UFC’s Fight Pass were directed to Showtime’s website; on Twitter, angry users posted info indicating that UFC told them it would not issue refunds.
Showtime and UFC had been policing illegal streams in the days leading up to the fight, and as part of those efforts submitted requests to Google to remove multiple URLs from piracy sites advertising access to the Mayweather-McGregor live-stream. Nevertheless, on a single day last week, Irdeto identified 42 ads for illicit streaming devices claiming to offer Mayweather vs. McGregor that ran on e-commerce websites including Amazon, eBay and Alibaba.
“Live sports are a cornerstone of global piracy, with thousands of sites providing illegal content attracting millions of viewers,” said Rory O’Connor, SVP of Irdeto’s cybersecurity services. “When combating live sports piracy, speed in disrupting piracy is essential.”
For the record, Mayweather defeated McGregor in the bout — touted as the biggest boxing event of the year — in a TKO decision in the 10th round. Mayweather’s career record now stands at 50-0.