For Saturday’s much-hyped Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight, the number of people who watched on illegal streams is estimated to be as high as 100 million, Forbes reports.
Other reports put the number much lower, with Variety placing it at about 2.93 million. Suffice to say it’s not an easy calculation.
“The numbers coming in about piracy of the fight in social media sites are astounding,” Forbes reports. “VFT Solutions, which specializes in monitoring live streams in social media, is reporting records in its books for a single live event. Its preliminary numbers show more than 7,000 partial or full live streams of the fight in social media platforms, with roughly 100 million viewers, or an average 14,000 viewers per stream.”
The Forbes report quotes Paul Gift, sports economist at Pepperdine’s Graziadio School of Business, and business and analytics writer for the MMA media outlet Bloody Elbow, who explains: “For certain fans, the Money Fight may have seemed in advance to be a competitively matched clash of boxing and MMA champions. But for many others, it was more of a spectacle fight, something you might want to see but not necessarily pay for. Add in a higher-than-usual U.S. pay-per-view price of $99.99 for HD and there was certainly a strong incentive to find alternative viewing options.”
Variety tallies it up this way: “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.”
Variety notes that official pay-per-view results have yet to be released.
Forbes adds: “From a technology perspective, the uphill battle against piracy is getting steeper as social media platforms enable anyone to stream live.”