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YARRRR! McGregor vs. Mayweather Was The Biggest Gift To Piracy Since Wooden Legs

Prepare To Be Boarded

Conor McGregor took on Floyd Mayweather and made a lot of money. A LOT of money. Like, a LOT.


You know who else made a lot of money?

Pirates Sailing the Stream

The numbers coming in about piracy of the fight in social media sites are astounding. 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. Wow.

Paul Gift, sports economist at Pepperdine’s Graziadio School of Business, and business and analytics writer for the MMA media outlet Bloody Elbow, states: “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.”



From a technology perspective, the uphill battle against piracy is getting steeper as social media platforms enable anyone to stream live.  

For a conservative estimate of the potential losses, let’s suppose half of the viewers reported on social media sites—50 million—watched the full fight, so they could be likely payers. Then, let’s adopt a research-based conservative assumption in the film industry that 10% of viewers of pirated content would have paid for it, and adjust it for this event. Using Gift’s insight that many considered it a spectacle and wouldn’t have paid the hefty $99.99, let’s cut that 10% in half. So that’s 5% of 50 million viewers, or 2.5 million viewers that were willing to pay-per-view, for a revenue loss of $250 million.

Vitamin $ Wards Off Scurvy

There’s some context, sure. . .

Some may argue there were special circumstances that may have driven masses to watch the fight on illegal live streams, such as:

  • The UFC’s streaming site crashed two hours before the fight, which may have caused many to flock to social media for a viewing alternative.
  • The unusual merging of two sports audiences, boxing and MMA, may have contributed to the massive views on illegal streams.
  • The fight was advertised heavily, including ads for illegal streams. Irdeto identified 42 ads on e-commerce websites for illicit streaming devices offering the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight.

But what seems undeniable is the magnitude of the live piracy (plus views of illegal replays and downloads of the fight were also massive, probably in the hundreds of millions). The fight marked Mayweather’s record-setting 50 victories with no defeats, but I bet based on the numbers above it will also be record-breaking for piracy of a live event on social media platforms. 

This will end well, we’re sure.