On this occasion the main target was WatchWrestling.ai, a site that until recently specialized in wrestling events by leading promotions including WWE, AEW, Impact, ROH and NJPW. These shows are extremely popular and traffic figures cited by ACE back that up, and then some.
“Over the past year, watchwrestling.ai and its associated domains have reached more than 253 million visits. Most of the traffic originated from the United States, the United Kingdom, India, and Canada,” the anti-piracy coalition reports.
ACE/DAZN Tag Team
ACE says that it worked closely with DAZN to take down WatchWrestling. DAZN is already a member of ACE but given the streaming service’s interests in the Impact promotion, it’s possible that specialist knowledge came into play.
ACE said it identified and then confronted the site’s owner in Uttar Pradesh, a state in northern India. This so-called ‘knock-and-talk’ approach has been successfully deployed many times over the past several years and DAZN seems happy with the results here.
“DAZN has invested significant amounts in building a successful business around combat sports, helping fund the development of MMA and boxing, as well as providing the best quality content and service for fans,” says Ed McCarthy, Chief Operating Office of DAZN Group.
“To continue to invest, DAZN has to be able to protect its intellectual property. The enforcement work ACE undertakes, as part of its joint Sports Piracy Task Force initiative, is a critical element of this work.”
A Closer Look at WatchWrestling
As mentioned earlier, WatchWrestling.ai appears to have been the priority target but as an individual domain it can’t account for 253 million annual visits. In July the domain received around 8.7m visits according to SimilarWeb data, but in August appeared to lose considerable traffic, with just 7.8m visits reported.
After losing another two million monthly visits in September, ACE turning up in India obviously had a negative impact. So, for the sake of building up a picture, we’ll assume an average of 9 million visits per month over the last year, giving us a total of 108 million annual visits for the .ai domain. That leaves us with just 145 million visits still to find.
The domain WatchWrestling.in didn’t put up any kind of a fight. Using the same Google Analytics tag as the .ai domain made it extremely easy to find, but with just 289,000 visits in July (roughly 3.5 million pa), 140 million visits still need to be accounted for.
With around 462K visits per month, in theory WatchWrestling.gg provides a welcome five million or so visits per year. Unfortunately historical traffic data is thin, but since the domain has an official redirect to ACE, we’ll count its traffic anyway, before anyone notices.
140 Million Annual Visits….For Someone Else to Find
With ACE sometimes reluctant to provide the full picture for operational and other reasons, digging below the surface for additional information is simply routine. Here we ran into multiple issues.
A domain linked with India is currently redirecting to ACE. It used to be a movie and TV show streaming site but right now its many sub-domain redirections are proving an irritant, and may not even be part of the equation.
And then there are the look-a-likes, clones, and other variants that look like WatchWrestling, many with similar domains, that either carry exactly the same or substantially the same content. It may transpire that some of these are destined to be handed over to ACE, the truth is we just don’t know.
At times like these, the scale of the task ahead for groups like ACE comes fully into perspective. Still, taking 250+ million annual visits out of the market is still a massive achievement.
Not quite on the level of events back in nineteen ninety eight when The Undertaker threw Mankind off Hell in a Cell and plummeted sixteen feet through an announcer’s table, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.