Periscope & Meerkat Users Win the Pacquiao-Mayweather Fight

Millions of people worldwide (myself included) shelled out $90 — $100 if you wanted it in HD…because, of course you did — to watch Floyd Mayweather be declared unanimous winner over Manny Pacquiao. While both HBO & Showtime worked diligently to shut piracy sites down ahead of Saturday’s fight, users of livestream apps Periscope & Meerkat were able to watch for free — thanks to other users broadcasting the PPV from their phones.

Who didn’t see that coming? 

Both Periscope (which I’ve covered before) & Meerkat had a large number of livestreams of Mayweather-Pacquaio to choose from. I checked each (for research purposes, of course) as the fight kicked off — at one point, a single Periscope livestream had over 4,000 viewers in attendance. While none were in particularly great quality, there were plenty that, honestly, weren’t very poor (if you didn’t mind the hosts’ camera shaking & yelling in the background) — certainly enough to get a general idea of what was going on.

The fight itself was rather uneventful; Mayweather danced & hugged and Pacquiao couldn’t find room under Floyd’s right arm to land any real meaningful punches. Add to that issues with cable services Time Warner & Charter (which actually caused the bout to be delayed for a bit) and the $100 price tag, I guess you can’t blame folks for turning to alternative means to view the event — actually, I just wished I had thought of it myself.

It does lead to an interesting question: what can Twitter (who owns Periscope) and Meerkat do to combat piracy of live events in the future?

Both companies have stated that broadcasting copyrighted material is against their ToS; since the conclusion of the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout, all recorded livestreams of the fight have been taken down from each. That didn’t stop users from watching, however; and, seemingly, won’t prevent people from livestreaming similar events in the future (note: there has been no announcement of “suspensions” for those who broadcasted the fight by either company as of yet — which doesn’t mean they aren’t forthcoming).

Sure, most people would never watch something like Game of Thrones on Periscope; that is a show that is made for HD, not second-hand mobile viewing of someone’s mobile device. But, for something like ComicCon or last weekend’s C2E2 here in Chicago (both of which have been known to show “exclusive” clips to those in attendance) — why not?

Piracy from Periscope & Meerkat certainly wouldn’t be impossible for each company to monitor for & shut down as it first appears — though, that would likely just lead to broadcasters getting more savvy with naming their livestreams, to avoid the apps’ censors (similar to what is done now on torrent sites). Seemingly, with how crafty people are on the Internets, only an army of real-life, human monitors would suffice to squash all pirated broadcasts; which, obviously, isn’t a scalable, long-term solution.

I’m curious to see over the next few days what both Meerkat and Periscope (and HBO/Showtime) will have to say about the Mayweather-Pacquiao livestreams. More importantly, it’ll be interesting to learn if — and how — the companies will prevent such piracy in the future.