By: Sean Crose
Sports Illustrated is reporting that a whopping 10 to 20 million – that’s million – people illegally streamed last month’s Tyson Fury – Deontay Wilder heavyweight title rematch. The fight, which followed a classic 2018 bout between the two men, was expected to break at least a million pay per view buys. Instead, Fury’s destructive beat down of Wilder brought in one to two hundred thousand less purchases than was expected. Eight to eight hundred fifty thousand buys is nothing to scoff at – but it’s not what most had expected – or wanted – from such a high profile match.
The publication reports “’Extraordinarily high theft”’ of the heavyweight title rematch between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury on February 22nd resulted in a depressed PPV sales total.” While some suspected that the disappointing Pay Per View results were yet another indication of boxing not being able to effectively promote itself, the Sports Illustrated piece suggests that the data presented indicates otherwise. The article goes on:
“VFT Solutions’ Wayne Lonstein (a source who admittedly would benefit from talk of rampant piracy) said that his company tracked between ten million and twenty million ‘live views of the fight on major social media platforms’ and another ten million views in the immediate aftermath of Fury’s victory.”
No small number.
What’s more, Wilder-Fury 2 was a hybrid fight, a rarity in contemporary boxing’s dysfunctional landscape. Wilder is advised by the enigmatic Al Haymon – and England’s Fury is represented by Bob Arum and Frank Warren. What made the battle all the more unique was that ESPN – which is allied with Arum – and Fox – which is allied with Haymon – agreed to air the card as a co-promotion between the two network giants. Clearly neither broadcast entity is happy with this latest bit of news.
Sports Illustrated also highlights Eleven Sport’s Frank Golding indicating illegal streams have to do with more than just simple theft – that the quality of the product may not equal the cost. While this certainly may be true at times, it’s hard to argue that anyone who actually purchased Fury’s brutal seventh round victory didn’t feel they got their money’s worth. On the other hand, Pay Per View boxing isn’t cheap, at least not in comparison to the Pay Per View costs of UFC cards.