The Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao fight this Saturday is not only the biggest money boxing match in history, internet experts say it also poses the biggest live streaming piracy problem ever for promoters and TV networks looking to profit from the fight to the tune of $300 million or more.
A lawsuit has now closed down two prominent pirate sites that advertised streaming of the fight, but that may be just a drop in the ocean. There are plenty of other sites online that will offer — or attempt to offer — free live streaming of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, allowing fans to avoid the nearly $100 price tag for the May 2 pay-per-view broadcast.
Earlier this week, Showtime and HBO — the rival cable networks now collaborating on the Saturday pay per view — filed a lawsuit against two site, boxinghd.net and Sportship.org, which were brazenly advertising free streaming of the fight.
As of Thursday morning, according to a report on the media industry site Deadline, both sites appear to have been deleted from their servers. But the two networks still want a judge to slap the sites with an injunction against streaming the fight anyway, just in case.
But other sites, many of which appear to be based overseas, have not been quite as blatant about calling attention to their own live streaming. Most of these sites, with names like Sports Hunter and VIP Box, do not actually stream sports events themselves.
Rather they provide regularly updated lists of links to other live, free streaming of numerous events from around the internet. Most sites present an interface divided into categories ranging from "football" to "racing" — and, of course, they include "boxing."
According to Bloomberg Business News, these sites are highly elusive. Private investigators hired by HBO and Showtime failed to identify ownership of the two sites targeted by the networks' lawsuit, and that's why the networks want internet service providers to block the sites during the time period in which the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight airs live.
But often when a pirate streaming site shuts down, it pops up elsewhere under a different domain name.
Viewers who want to watch Mayweather vs, Pacquiao streaming live online legally and legitimately are out of look. The pay-per-view networks have not set up an online stream, leaving only free, pirate sites as the only alternative to watching the megafight online.
[Image: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]