HBO and Showtime have been ready for illegal live streams of Saturday's Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight, filing lawsuits against illicit streaming sites this week in anticipation of the historic bout.
Forbes reported earlier this week on a complaint the networks, along with promoters Top Rank and Mayweather Promotions, filed in a federal court in Florida against boxinghd.net and sportship.org. Both sites had announced plans to stream the bout, although HBO and Showtime have exclusive rights. The networks sought a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction and damages to compensate for losses and legal costs.
The fight has been widely expected to raise more than $300 million, with more than half coming from the pay-per-view sales that will cost, at maximum, $100 per purchase.
According to TorrentFreak, it’s the first time ever that a lawsuit has been filed over piracy that hasn’t yet taken place...
But the complaint claims that the two sites have form. "Plaintiffs are informed and believe and on that basis allege that Defendants have a long history of promoting infringing streams of copyrighted broadcasts of boxing matches," it reads, listing the May 4, 2013 fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Robert Guerrero, as well as the July 12, 2014 fight between Erislandy Lara and Canelo Alvarez, as examples.
WIRED reported on Saturday that with the networks pushing hard to squash any and all illegal streams for the bout, VPNs, or Vitual Private Networks, will be the only routes for cord-cutters to take. Neither HBO nor Showtime will stream the fight live on their own streaming services, HBO Go and Showtime Anytime.
A VPN service basically gives you a new IP address, one from a server located in another country. VPNs come in various forms (some are free, simple extensions, while more sophisticated options will cost you and have to be downloaded), but they are all simple to use. You open, select a country, and then visit the site or service that holds the content you’re looking for. And if everything works as it should, sites you visit will think you’re located in the country of your choosing.
Clearly, illegal streaming will be significantly less feasible for Mayweather vs. Pacquiao than it might typically be for traditional sporting events. Legitimate methods of watching the bout are available through PPV by DirectTV, Verizon Fios, Time Warner Cable and most other cable services for about $90 in standard definition and $100 in high definition. DISH was also offering a promotion where new subscribers can get the PPV fight free of charge.
Ten MGM Resorts properties in Las Vegas are also showing the fight on closed-circuit TV for $150 per ticket.
Neighborhood bars will also of course be showing the fight, though cover charges should be expected considering major fights can cost establishments between $1,500 to $3,000.
Internationally, the following countries will be airing the fight for free: Colombia, China, Dubai, France, Mexico, Philippines, South Africa and Thailand.