Mayweather V. McGregor: Showtime Got Injunctions On Pirate Stream Sites Which Didn't Work & Neither Did Their Own Stream

from the oops dept

As you will already know, a boxing match recently took place between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor. The fight itself was far better than it should have been, but you may not know it if you couldn't manage to actually see it. Much as it did in the run up to the Mayweather v. Pacquiao fight of a couple of years ago, Showtime went out and got some rather questionable injunctions against 44 sites it believed would be offering up the fight via an illegitimate stream during the live pay-per-view broadcast. That effort resulted in, ahem, only three million viewers watching the fight via illegal live streams. Thousands more downloaded video of the fight illicitly after it occurred. So, Showtime got a court to agree to questionable pre-crime activities with the result being rather mixed.

But if the steady mantra from the content industries that "every infringement is a lost sale" were true, then perhaps Showtime should be thanking its lucky stars that illegal streams were available, because its own streaming service wasn't able to handle the viewership load it did have.

Showtime was hit with a federal class-action lawsuit amid reports that it delivered shoddy or non-existent $99 streams of the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight Saturday. This is contrary to Showtime's promise of 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second.

"Instead of being a 'witness to history' as defendant had promised, the only thing plaintiff witnessed was grainy video, error screens, buffer events, and stalls," declared the lawsuit (PDF) filed in federal court on behalf of a Portland man named Zack Bartel. The suit seeks to represent "thousands of other consumers" unable to stream the Mayweather fight in HD as Showtime advertised.

By all accounts, it was bad. Really bad. The fight was delayed for paying streamers for over half an hour as Showtime's service was unable to handle all of those customers who paid for the fight. I don't want to spend any time on this class lawsuit, because these kinds of class lawsuits are generally pretty silly and the fact that Showtime failed to deliver on its own streaming product isn't in and of itself the point. The point is that if the company really wanted to go to war with streaming sites prior to the fight, it should have made sure that money and effort wouldn't have been better spent actually catering to its paying customers.

What if the content industries were right and the injunctions had worked? What if Showtime had to accommodate three million more customers with pirate streams unavailable? How bad would the streaming experience to all of those paying customers have been then? Likely it would have merely added 3 million more individuals to the class action lawsuit.

Meanwhile, of those that did pay for the fight and had their experience range from "delayed and sub-par" to "holy shit, I can't even watch this thing", how many might give this whole pirate stream thing a whirl the next time Showtime puts on a fight? All because Showtime would rather play whac-a-mole with streaming sites than make its own product function, never mind actually competitively good.


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 10:51am

    I loved one comment at Ars:


    "Sketch6995
    Aug 28, 2017 11:35 PM

    Now isn't that just funny?
    The pirated stream i was watching never had a problem lol."


    Pretty much sums the experience outside of Netflixes of the world (which happen to be companies that have nothing to do with legacy players except for making their product available and giving them money they refuse to get because piracy).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 10:55am

    Meanwhile, of those that did pay for the fight and had their experience range from "delayed and sub-par" to "holy shit, I can't even watch this thing"

    The article says it was $99. Is that right? Did people really pay $99 for maybe a few hours of television? US dollars?

    If so, how about "holy shit, this costs more than a monthly cable bill" as the reaction?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 10:57am

    How can the pirate stream be better than the "official" stream? Unless someone was filming the fight live from the arena, wouldn't the pirate stream come from the official version?

    Did they pirate the raw feed?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:14am

      Re:

      Just have a cable box that can get the stream, capture it and retransmit. Full quality. The official *stream* had grainy, poor quality for many people trying to use it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 2:13pm

        Re: Re:

        LOL uh no.

        To OP: anyone that pirated the stream had the same issues as those who paid. The issue was Showtime's feed.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:16am

      Re:

      They bought the PPV, then plugged thier cable box into a HDCP stripper, then from the stripper into a capture card in thier PC. Then used OBS (or some other encoding software) to broadcast it to one of many streaming sites. Generous souls, god bless 'em.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:21am

        Re: Re:

        Maybe I don't know, but if the PPV sucked, how could the "pirate" stream be better than the original?

        My son watched the fight, said that the very early rounds went dark.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Killercool (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:33am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The cable pay-per-view version is not the streaming version. While the video may be the same, the PPV version was broadcast over cable, and the streaming version was distributed over the internet.

          Now, if the PPV version was bad, that just means that pirates got the same shitty show as anyone did. However, the pirated stream was ripped from the PPV version, not the awful streamed version of the fight.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 12:58pm

      Re:

      How can the pirate stream be better than the "official" stream?

      First, they have to get a good copy. If pauses for buffering are the problem, a slight delay (a few seconds or a minute) might let the "pirate" server receive the full video for retransmission. If they're having packet loss, connection drops, etc., they could pay for multiple streams and combine the good bits from each (this can be automated). The more boring and realistic answer was already mentioned: grab it from a more reliable system like cable TV.

      Then they have to provide a better service to their users. Mainly, have enough bandwidth to cover the demand. If congestion happens, don't drop packets; re-encode the stream to need less bandwidth instead. Maybe they just have better network engineers.

      Did they pirate the raw feed?

      People used to sometimes pull stuff like this from raw satellite fields; don't know if that still happens.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:11am

    Told ya soo!

    Lets see...
    1. Why not use an EXISTING SERVICE like YOUTUBE..
    2. WHO didnt TEST THIS with a free access channel for a short period of time to see what would happen?
    3. WHO in their RIGHT mind had an idea that THEY ALONE could even do this.
    4. they didnt CHECK with other groups that have TRIED to do the same thing..Check with SCIFI channel..they LOVE IT(LMAO), HULU, Comedy central..Name ANY corp, and ASK THEM HOW BAD IT IS..

    Why is it that OUR corps are running around as IF' NO ONE HAS ever DONE THIS, AND THEY ARE THE first to try... go ask cbs(?) ABOUT THE Olympics, AND THE fun they had..

    ITS as they never TRIED to watch Any of this online in the recent past..

    WHY do I know this BETTER THEN they do??
    A Bunch of Execs Locked up in their OWN CLOSETS, never watching anything on TV, Cable, Sat the internet..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:19am

      Re: Told ya soo!

      >A Bunch of Execs Locked up in their OWN CLOSETS,

      More a bunch of execs who hold meetings at luxury resorts with good golf courses, and call it social networking.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 12:21pm

      Re: Told ya soo!

      They're too busy snorting coke off the stomach of a $1K per night hooker to watch TV/Cable/Sat/Streaming.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 30 Aug 2017 @ 1:47am

      Re: Told ya soo!

      "1. Why not use an EXISTING SERVICE like YOUTUBE.."

      Because Google. Probably.

      "2. WHO didnt TEST THIS with a free access channel for a short period of time to see what would happen?"

      The problem was probably the load on the service. Either something went wrong, they didn't plan for the number of viewers they eventually got, or they underestimated the strain pumping out full 1080p would put on their system. Testong on a "free access channel" wouldn't have given them correct load testing.

      "3. WHO in their RIGHT mind had an idea that THEY ALONE could even do this."

      Plenty of companies do achieve this sort of thing in-house. This would have been an edge case to test their handling of the product, and it went wrong. If it had succeeded, nobody would have thought anything of it. It's only newsworthy because not only did it go so spectacularly wrong, the pirates yet again were able to offer a better product.

      Bottom line - while they may be better off partnering with successful specialists in the field, there's no real reason why Showtime couldn't offer a robust service if they were as willing to invest in their own infrastructure and expertise as they were in lawyers and marketing. That they didn't do this doesn't mean that they were dumb for trying to offer the service, only that they really need to look at how they run it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    CharlesGrossman (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:23am

    Whac-a-Mole

    I hope you don't get hassled by the holder of the Whac-a-Mole trademark. I think the conventional hassle from trademark holders to journalists and writers is that they strongly urge the use of capital letters so that readers will know it's a trademark (in addition to urging writers not to use the trademark as if it's a generic term for the product or service).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2017 @ 8:26am

      Re: Whac-a-Mole

      Dear TechDirt,

      We at Whac-a-Mole Inc. would like to object to your comparison of our much-beloved game to the concept of fighting pirated media streams, as it is a gross mischaracterization.

      Time spent Whacing the Moles that pop out of our best-selling game is much more productive, as well as more fun for everyone involved (including the Moles), than such fruitless litigation as you describe.

      In addition, a game of Whac-a-Mole is generally kept at an affordable rate for children of all ages and social classes to play, whereas only the very richest members of our society can afford to litigate everyone in a mistaken sense that once you give encrypted data and a decryption key to a consumer, you can then effectively restrict that data from spreading further.

      In short, a game of Whac-a-Mole is an affordable, amusing, and comparatively productive use of time and resources, and we resent in all ways that it might be compared with Showtime's actions.

      We would appreciate if you would not make such comparisons in the future, but don't worry, we aren't stupid enough to sue you for it.


      Sincerest regards,

      IAN A. LAWYER,
      F.A.K. Ename & Assoc.,
      On Behalf of Whac-A-Mole Inc.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:43am

    At $100 per legal, it's not advertising supported: pirates are not wanted.

    This reminds me, though:

    "Can You Sue For Copyright Infringement Before It's Actually Happened?"

    'Yes, kids, a "restraining order" is possible in advance, given evidence.'
    'The "irreparable harm" is income that will NOT be received.'

    Mike Masnick exhibited his ignorance in this prior piece.
    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150428/17521830827/can-you-sue-copyright-infringement-before-act ually-happened.shtml

    Myself and "antidirt" tried to school him, but clearly the principle and law is still not grasped here.

    That link is essential reading to learn that Techdirt / Masnick and fanboys are simply piratey fools eager to infringe. For instance "G Thompson" wrote at me: "and you have no idea how law nor procedures actually work." So who was proved right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Joseph (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:48am

    The reason it worked before with pirate sites is because they were taking the load off the server for rebroadcast using their own bandwidth and processing power. Clearly, Showtime did not have enough resources to handle the streams. Hard lesson to learn.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ryuugami, 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:57am

      Re:

      Hard lesson to learn.

      You're assuming that they learned anything :/

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 12:25pm

        Re: Re:

        Yep. Much more likely, they'll complain to the government that criminal piracy STOLE $300M from them ($100 * 3 million 'illegal' streamers). With that $300M, they could have provided better service to the legal streamers... not that they would have even if every single one paid for the show.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2017 @ 3:02am

      Re:

      The only lesson they learned is that streaming doesn't work and that the only way forward is for people to subscribe to cable. QED

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    William, 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:54am

    I watched it just fine..

    There were TONS of periscope feeds up online..some hd..some not...and it took down periscope..for about two minutes. Then the entire fight streamed jsut fine. I guess showtime forgot to shutdown twitter/periscope and facebook too?...:)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:55am

    and regardless of the issue the 'official' stream had, the reason why the so-called 'pirate' offerings of all types, not just this particular stream, but movies, music, games, you name it, are so successful is because those who put them out are passionate in what they do! they ensure that everything works as it should, with backups in case of the very occasional failure happening! most do it for the luls, dont charge a cent and not only ensure customer satisfaction but have the files for posterity, unlike the 'official' release that gets thrown into a corner somewhere as soon as it's finished, gets covered in dust, trampled on and ultimately forgotten! there have been multiple instances of 'pirate sites' having copies of stuff wanted by some research organization or other etc but no official release able to be found. how ridiculous is that?? saved by the very sites that are continuously condemned, shut down at every opportunity and even worse, the operators jailed with sentences more severe than for people who have committed 'proper crimes'!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 3:30pm

      Re:

      You are CORRECT..
      And its a funny thing, that EVEN ANIME, 1 week after release in China/japan, is SUBBED in the USA, and <6 months a DUB is out..and it seems the SAME voices the Corp releases 1 year after release...

      MOST of the problem is that CORPS USE MATERIAL GOODS(movies and video and music) AS TRADE ITEMS WITH VALUE...AND NO TAX.
      (Better then DIAMONDS)
      RENT LEASE them for a price and AWAY YOU GO..

      IF ALL THE PAST TV was recorded PUBLICLY...we would have 90% of it STORED SOMEPLACE..in EVERY FORMAT POSSIBLE.. and not have lost a good 30-50% from the past.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 12:02pm

    While I agree that time and money was wasted playing whack-a-mole, aren't the technical side and lawyer side of showtime separate? So was the cost of going for pirates really as costly as it seems. I mean sure it cost money to process legal docs and stuff but in comparison to the cost of hosting a streaming service was it really much of a cost for the company?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ryuugami, 29 Aug 2017 @ 1:57pm

      Re:

      I mean sure it cost money to process legal docs and stuff but in comparison to the cost of hosting a streaming service was it really much of a cost for the company?

      Well, pirates managed to handle streaming just fine, and I'd say their revenues are significantly lower than the company's.

      You see, pirates don't have legal or marketing departments, so they can focus entirely on good service...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:35pm

        Re: Re:

        Well, pirates managed to handle streaming just fine,

        That is because the use the viewer to provide some of the bandwidth and computing power needed to distribute the stream, which makes it scale rather well. Showtime et. al. could use the same technology, but wont because of fears of piracy....

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    McFortner (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 12:11pm

    Example Item #3

    Just goes to show how content managers want all the income from their services, but don't want to spend the money necessary to maintain and upgrade their services. No wonder why people go to "alternative" sources of media.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 12:55pm

    From what I've heard, Showtime and another service (can't remember which) tried streaming the fight, with enormous technical issues... and then there was Sling, the third legitimate service that streamed it. People are saying they're the only ones who actually pulled it off.

    Might be worth looking at, if they can stay up when everyone else is crashing under heavy load.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mike Shore (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 1:35pm

    Silicon Valley predicted the future

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 2:43pm

    But piracy... children!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 2:57pm

    WHY is it rare and even single-digit commenters just keep showing up???

    CharlesGrossman 26 comments since 12 Jun 2010.

    McFortner 75 comments in six years.

    Mike Shore 52 comments in nearly six years.

    Then here's Joseph: 6 comments = 1 per year! Apr 29th, 2010 https://www.techdirt.com/user/jmoriweb

    This is second page where four very ODD commenters show up in only 20-some comments.

    Persons reading Techdirt for seven years, made an account (keeping the password safe), yet so rarely use it?

    It's not explicable except as astro-turfing. Be interesting to rummage it with admin rights. I now guess about half the commenters are so real as "women" on Ashley-Madison.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 7:51pm

      Re: WHY is it rare and even single-digit commenters just keep showing up???

      It's almost like people have different commenting habits than you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 9:57pm

        Re: Re: WHY is it rare and even single-digit commenters just keep showing up???

        out_of_the_blue just hates it when due process is enforced.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2017 @ 8:28am

      Re: WHY is it rare and even single-digit commenters just keep showing up???

      And who is that Anonymous Coward guy who seems to be writing 75% of the comments?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 2:58pm

    At $100 per legal view, it's not advertising supported:

    pirates gained them nothing.

    "Can You Sue For Copyright Infringement Before It's Actually Happened?"

    'Yes, kids, a "restraining order" is possible in advance, given evidence.'
    'The "irreparable harm" is income that will NOT be received.'

    Mike Masnick exhibited his ignorance in this prior piece.
    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150428/17521830827/can-you-sue-copyright-infringement-befo re-actually-happened.shtml

    Myself and "antidirt" tried to school him, but clearly the principle and law is still not grasped here.

    That link is essential reading to learn that Techdirt / Masnick and fanboys are simply piratey fools eager to infringe. For instance "G Thompson" wrote at me: "and you have no idea how law nor procedures actually work." So who was proved right?

    NOTE: 5th attempt, since soon after appeared. Lost in "Moderation" yet again...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2017 @ 11:00pm

      Re: At $100 per legal view, I wouldn't pirate it if you paid me

      And the funny thing is, if a pirate site doesn't have a watchable stream, that's money wasted. It'd be like blowing up a mom and pop shop because you heard one branch of Wal-Mart had a locust infestation; expensive, and helps abso-bloody-lutely nobody.

      Pirates didn't help or hurt anyone, but Showtime decided it was a good idea to shoot themselves in the foot. Apparently you think we all need to pay for their harm reduction. Screw that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JMT (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 3:31pm

    Grossly overcharge for a service so bad you get sued, even while knowing that high quality free streams will happen, and yet we're the ones you call fools.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 6:27pm

    Still got more than what we paid for

    I watched on a pirate stream but had some audio issues. Had HD video so we didn't miss any of the action. We didn't need the commentary.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 7:30pm

    Class action

    I don't want to spend any time on this class lawsuit, because these kinds of class lawsuits are generally pretty silly

    Many class actions are silly, but this one may not be. The class is for the most part identifiable from Showtime's records, and the relief sought is significant enough to matter to the class members. If Showtime took money and didn't deliver the promised product, I don't see why they shouldn't get sued. And I don't see why the suit shouldn't be class action, unless there's a dispute as to the quality of the stream for each individual person.

    Of course, I may change my mind about the class action if it settles for $5 million for the lawyers and coupons for $5 off the next PPV fight for the class members.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Narcissus (profile), 30 Aug 2017 @ 12:37am

    Shocked

    I am shocked!

    People paid 99 US$ for watching one single boxing match? Between a boxer and a not so much a boxer?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 30 Aug 2017 @ 1:21am

      Re: Shocked

      Also, the fight sucked, which I imagine makes those people feel cheated out of their money.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 30 Aug 2017 @ 2:21am

      Re: Shocked

      Lots of people do this sort of thing for parties - i.e. they will get groups of friends around, make a whole event around the fight, so you might only pay $5-10 per person to watch it and everyone has a good time around the broadcast as well.

      Sure, if you're sitting at home on your own it's a ridiculous cost. Get 10 people round and they provide the drinks & food while paying toward the match, it's a lot cheaper than going out for a meal. As long as you get the service you paid for, of course.

      Not something I ever do myself, but in that context it seems fine, even if it was just a silly gimmick.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2017 @ 8:04am

    Powered by Nucleus.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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