Wednesday, August 30, 2017

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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