The Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor boxing match was not the only competition generating attention this past weekend. Data from digital platform security specialist Irdeto indicates that piracy continues to be a tough contender. Irdeto identified 239 streams that illegally redistributed the bout. Of those streams, 67 were provided via traditional pirate streaming websites.
Underscoring the growth of streaming capabilities on social media, Irdeto also found that pirates exploited multiple channels, including Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, Twitch and others to redistribute this premier boxing event illegally.
Irdeto found that 165 social media streams offered the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight illegally, with six streams available via illicit streaming plugins for the popular media player platform, Kodi. These 239 streams are estimated to have reached approximately 2,930,598 viewers. With both boxing and UFC fans eager to see this matchup, pirates capitalised on consumer demand to provide multiple illegal viewing options for this premier live sports event and reap the profit for themselves.
According to Irdeto, what made this fight unique was that it was the first of its kind to be available to stream live online and it combined two huge viewer audiences: boxing and UFC. While content availability is key, it may have also inadvertently caused some consumers to choose an illegal service over a legitimate service due to confusion and clever marketing. Irdeto has seen an increase in pirates creating professional websites, technology and services, fooling some consumers into thinking they are accessing a legal service.
However, not all of the consumers who chose an illegal viewing option did so unknowingly. Irdeto’s recent Global Consumer Piracy Survey of more than 25,000 adults across 30 countries found that 52 per cent of consumers around the globe knowingly watch pirated video content. With operators and content owners charging as much as $99.95 to watch the fight in the US, compared to only £19.95 in the UK and €24.95 in McGregor’s home country of Ireland, these piracy numbers clearly indicate that consumers may seek illegal means to watch marquee events such as Mayweather vs. McGregor without paying.
Irdeto suggests that with pirates functioning more like full-fledged businesses, criminals are doing market research and are aware that consumers are craving this type of live sports content. In just one day in the week leading up to the bout, Irdeto identified 42 advertisements for illicit streaming devices offering Mayweather vs. McGregor on e-commerce websites, including Amazon, eBay and Alibaba. According to Irdeto, this clearly points to how business-savvy pirates have become, creating a formidable foe for legitimate service providers. Irdeto works on an ongoing basis with sites such as Alibaba to remove advertisements of this nature.
“Live sports are a cornerstone of global piracy, with thousands of sites providing illegal content attracting millions of viewers,” said Rory O’Connor, Senior Vice President of Cybersecurity Services, Irdeto. “When combatting live sports piracy, speed in disrupting piracy is essential. This is especially the case with premium events like this past weekend’s Mayweather vs. McGregor boxing match. The most effective strategy is an intelligence-driven approach with a 360-degree view of piracy. By identifying and stopping pirate streams in real-time through specialised knowledge and technology, content owners and operators are able to protect revenue and deliver a greater user experience.”