If you want to see the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao fight this Saturday, you'll have to pay the highest pay-per-view price ever charged — but more people are expected to do just that than have paid any price for a previous pay-per-view boxing match. The fight is expected to rake in somewhere between $300 million and $400 million in revenue from the one-time PPV buys.
Or will it?
Illegal, free online streaming is likely to take a pretty big chunk out of that projected revenue, says a new report in the financial magazine Forbes. And while Vegas is offering bettors the chance to wager on an "over/under" number of PPV buys, one sports betting expert tells Forbes that the "under" is the better bet.
While some sports books have the line set at 3.8 million buys, the lowest available line is 3.15 million — meaning that if you bet "under," a PPV buy total of fewer than 3.15 million wins you the bet.
"I would put out the argument that we are going to see fewer views than 3.15 million," Zack Jones, Editor of Sportsbook Review told Forbes. "I think 3 million is probably closer to where the line should be set. This is the first, I dare say, 'Fight of the Century' for the social media age. Now we have streaming services, YouTube, clips of highlights. You can pretty much stream anything. It's not that hard to find these streams."
One of the two broadcast outlets co-producing the PPV broadcast, Showtime, is so worried that illegal free streaming could cut into their hoped-for massive revenue pie, that the Viacom-owned cable network has already reportedly filed lawsuits against at least two sites that have claimed to offer free live online streaming of the historic May 2 megafight.
Those two sites, according to a report on TMZ Sports, are boxinghd.net and sportship.org — which have apparently been careless enough to advertise their illegal streams of the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight in advance.
One of them even posted on online announcement declaring, "If you can't afford to buy tickets then simply watch Mayweather vs Pacquiao here. We will provide nothing but the freshest and the most reliable high quality live links," according to the Showtime lawsuit, which asks a judge to bar the sites from streaming the fight live online.
Meanwhile, the other broadcast partner, HBO, reportedly will not even allow legal free streaming of the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight weeks after the fact. The network posts replays of many boxing matches broadcast on its airwaves to its streaming services, HBO GO and HBO Now, within a week or two.
But there are no plans to make an archived replay of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao available on either HBO streaming service anytime in the foreseeable future, reports the site Netflix Life, which keeps tabs on the online streaming industry.
There is one lucky group of people who will be granted the privilege of watching Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao for free and live on May 2 — 122 million Mexicans. Mexico's two top television networks, Televisa and Azteca, have obtained rights to broadcast the fight live on the air in Mexico Saturday for entire country to watch for free.
[Images: Ethan Miller/Harry How/Getty Images]