NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — It’s officially a new age of piracy. As some people shelled out $100 to watch Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fight on pay-per-view, others simply went online and watched it for free.
That was made possible with smartphone live video stream apps like Meerkat and Periscope. Click a button, and you can stream something to the whole world. Naturally, many pointed it at their televisions. And at least one person actually attended the boxing match in Las Vegas and streamed it ringside.
HBO and Showtime tried to clamp down on this sort of thing before the fight. Both companies even filed a last-minute federal lawsuit and successfully blocked two websites — BoxingHD.net and Sportship.org — from showing it live for free.
But HBO and Showtime couldn’t stop the sea of people from livestreaming the fight all over the world. Anyone on Twitter could easily tune into a stream on Meerkat (an Israeli startup) or Periscope (a service owned by Twitter itself).
It was so rampant that that Twitter CEO Dick Costolo took a swing at the TV networks, pronouncing Periscope the winner of the night.
CNNMoney asked HBO and Showtime whether they warned Twitter or Meerkat — or if they’re going to chase down the people who livestreamed the fight. Showtime, speaking on behalf of both companies, declined to comment. CNN and HBO are owned by the same parent corporation, Time Warner.
HBO and Showtime raked in an estimated $400 million-plus for Saturday night’s fight. But it’s unclear how much money the companies lost from people who streamed it for free online.
At one point, 10,000 people tuned into a single Periscope video feed. As the night went on, some folks asked viewers not to “heart” (or “like”) the video to avoid drawing the attention of potential censors at HBO, Showtime, Twitter or Meerkat.
Those who owned the rights to broadcast the fight — HBO, Showtime, boxing promoter Top Rank and Mayweather’s firm — sent Periscope 66 takedown requests Saturday night, according to Twitter. Periscope took down 30 of them, the company said. Others ended before the company could make a move.
“Piracy does not excite us,” Periscope cofounder Kayvon Keykpour said on Twitter on Sunday. “Trust me, we respect [intellectual property] rights and had many people working hard to be responsive last night (including myself).”
This isn’t a new problem. Last month, we learned that HBO has already sent legal notices to Periscope, demanding that the company take down accounts that illegally stream the incredibly popular show “Game of Thrones.”
HBO wants tech companies to develop automatic censors that scan for piracy and block it. YouTube already does this, using algorithms to identify copyrighted content as it’s being uploaded to its website.
But this isn’t a simple HBO vs Periscope fight. HBO itself used Periscope to give the public a behind-the-scenes look inside Pacquiao’s private room before the fight.