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Mayweather vs McGregor streaming and on YouTube: Will bootleggers be better policed?

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Given all the buzz about tomorrow night's Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor superfight, hackers are surely looking for ways to profit off the event.

Ward vs Kovalev I

Last fall, Andre Ward vs Sergey Kovalev I, a dream fight of sorts, generated only 170,000 PPV buys yet in the days following the event, views for illegal uploads to YouTube alone exceeded 500,000.

And that number doesn't include those who saw the fight live via an illegal stream.

Mayweather vs McGregor 
Earlier this week, Dana White, the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), predicted that Mayweather vs McGregor would generate upwards of $700 Million worldwide.

“This is the biggest event ever in combat sports history,” White said on a conference call, on Wednesday evening. “This is the most distributed event in pay-per-view history.

“This thing is in like 200 countries on pay-per-view. Boxing doesn't usually do a lot of digital. If you're in Manhattan or on a desert island somewhere, if you have Wifi you can buy this fight.”

If I could ask Dana White one question, it would be this: To what extent are bootleg sites and YouTube being policed as illegal Myweather vs McGregor streaming will likely be available too?

Illegal streams and video posted on sites like YouTube (literally) immediately after a boxing PPV are undoubtedly costing the sport millions of dollars because the policing of such activity, by the promoters and networks, is poor.

Why does this happen?
Hackers shamelessly - and illegally - rebroadcast copyrighted content not because they are fight fans and want as many people as possible to partake in the entertainment; They do it 1) To make money via the ads showcased with that stolen content and 2)  to attempt to infect users' computers with malware via malicious pop-ups and deceptive links when users frequent their sites to access the video.

Essentially, online pirates make money off the blood, sweat and tears of the fighters, managers and promoters and then, depending on the medium, attempt to infect users with viruses so they can, again, illegally generate revenue by compromising people's credit information or stealing their identity.

How does this hurt the sport?
Pirating diminishes the value of big fights because the fighters, managers and promoters earn less for their work because a certain percentage of viewers aren't paying for the product. As a result, some match-ups don't come to fruition because the projected revenue doesn't meet the minimum expectations of the parties involved.

In the days of Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Julio Cesar Chavez, fans were happy to pay. In fact, back in the 90s when Iron Mike KO'd someone in seconds, we "joked" about having to pay $40 for such a short main event yet  proceeded to purchase the next "showcase" without hesitation.

But back then, there was no YouTube, social media or illegal streams.

Back to Saturday night
Some insiders insist Mayweather vs McGregor will eclipse the 4.4M buyrate produced by the 2015 Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao bout, the highest revenue-generating fight to date. But even in the last two years, we've seen an uptick in pirating and fans have become seemingly more saavy as it relates to finding ways to not pay.

In the U.S., the Mayweather vs McGregor PPV card will cost most buyers $100. If that's too pricey for some, those fans should pay a few dollars to watch it at a local restaurant or bar, or split the fee with a friend. At least they'd be contributing to the event and not aiding and abetting illegal activity that threatens to undermine the sport.

Will Mayweather vs McGregor reach its revenue expectations? If not, illegal streaming and posting might have played a considerable role in undermining the event.


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