The boxing matchup between Mayweather and McGregor was an unusual sporting event in many ways, not least financially.
With close to a billion dollars at stake, various rightsholders did their best to ensure that piracy was kept to a minimum.
However, despite an injunction against pirate streaming sites and mysterious tracking codes embedded in streams, they were easily defeated.
New data published by Canadian broadband management company Sandvine reveals that there was a massive surge in live streaming piracy around the fight. The company monitored traffic at a fixed access tier-1 network in North America and found that many people tuned into pirate IPTV services.
Generally speaking, a single pirate live streaming channel never accounts for more than five percent of the total bandwidth generated by these unauthorized broadcasts. However, it was quite different last weekend.
“On Saturday that all changed, as the report below shows: at its peak, the pirated UFC and PPV channels for the Mayweather/McGregor fight accounted for 50% of all pirate TV streams,” Sandvine notes.
According to Sandvine, roughly 8% of the sampled subscribers have pirate live streaming devices at their homes and many of these were tuning into the fight between Mayweather and McGregor.
Towards the end of the event, 3.5 percent of total bandwidth consumed on the network came from these pirate streams. To give an illustration of the traffic that was generated, Sandvine notes that the unauthorized boxing streams totaled more traffic than Twitch, Facebook, and Instagram together.
While the figures are based on a sample of North American fixed access network traffic, Sandvine believes that it provides a good indication of the total traffic. In the near future, the company plans to release more details on this pirate streaming trend, to better understand what’s going on.
Sandvine informed TorrentFreak that the current numbers apply to pirate IPTV services, not the live streams that people watch in their regular browser.
This means that the complete piracy numbers are even higher. There is a wide variety of live streaming options available to pirates, and tracking outfit Irdeto estimates that close to 3 million people watched streams through YouTube, Facebook, Periscope and various pirate streaming sites.
It’s safe to say that in theory, the rightsholders could have made millions more. But then again, with hundreds of millions fresh in the bank, they’re not doing too badly at the moment.