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Mayweather-McGregor Match Draws Millions to Illegal, Pirated Streams

The epic boxing showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor in the United States was piracy bait over the weekend: Content security specialist Irdeto identified 239 streams that illegally redistributed the match.

Of those streams, 67 were provided via traditional pirate streaming websites. There were also 165 social media streams as pirates exploited multiple channels, including Facebook, YouTube, Periscope and Twitch. Irdeto also found six streams available via illicit streaming plugins for the popular media player platform, Kodi.

The match was a highly anticipated premier event, with both boxing (Mayweather) and UFC (McGregor) fans drawn to it. It was offered for an average of $89 to $100 as a pay-per-view event via cable and satellite outlets in the US (and for £19.95 in the UK and €24.95 in McGregor’s home country of Ireland); but Irdeto found that in total, the illegal streams reached approximately 2.9 million viewers.

“What made this fight unique was that it was the first of its kind to be available to stream live online and it combined two huge viewer audiences: boxing and UFC,” the company said. “While content availability is key, it may have also inadvertently caused some consumers to choose an illegal service over a legitimate service due to confusion and clever marketing. Irdeto has seen an increase in pirates creating professional websites, technology and services, fooling some consumers into thinking they are accessing a legal service.”

With pirates functioning more like full-fledged businesses, criminals are doing market research and are aware that consumers are craving this type of live sports content. In just one day in the week leading up to the bout, Irdeto identified 42 advertisements for illicit streaming devices offering Mayweather vs. McGregor on e-commerce websites, including Amazon, eBay and Alibaba. Irdeto said that this clearly points to how business savvy pirates have become, creating a formidable foe for legitimate service providers. Irdeto works on an ongoing basis with sites like Alibaba to remove advertisements of this nature.

“Live sports are a cornerstone of global piracy, with thousands of sites providing illegal content attracting millions of viewers,” said Rory O’Connor, senior vice president of Cybersecurity Services at Irdeto. “When combatting live sports piracy, speed in disrupting piracy is essential. This is especially the case with premium events like this past weekend’s Mayweather vs. McGregor boxing match. The most effective strategy is an intelligence-driven approach with a 360-degree view of piracy. By identifying and stopping pirate streams in real-time through specialized knowledge and technology, content owners and operators are able to protect revenue and deliver a greater user experience.”

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