Twitter’s Streaming App Creates Piracy of Year’s Biggest Fight

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo
Richard "Dick" Costolo, chief executive officer of Twitter Inc., pauses during a Bloomberg Television interview in San Francisco, California. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Twitter Inc.’s video-streaming application Periscope enabled people to pirate Saturday’s fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, getting the thrill of the year’s biggest bout without paying the $100 pay-per-view tab.

Many of these users posted about being able to watch the event on Twitter, where Dick Costolo, the social-media company’s chief executive officer, pronounced Periscope the night’s victor. Executives from HBO and Showtime asked Periscope and other live-streaming services such as Meerkat to take down the streams as the fight was happening, according to a person with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified while the matter is being investigated.

While Saturday’s piracy is unlikely to dent the millions made by Time Warner Inc.’s HBO and CBS Corp.’s Showtime, which partnered to produce the fight, it augurs a potential problem if more people use live-streaming apps to watch pay TV. HBO previously asked the service to take down streams of the season premiere of its hit show “Game of Thrones” when it realized people had used Periscope to stream it for free.

“I watched last night’s fight by just browsing through different Periscope streams,” Shelly Palmer, an adviser to media companies such as Viacom Inc. and 21st Century Fox Inc., wrote in a note. “This kind of live-piracy is going to be hard if not impossible to regulate.”

Streaming Video

People watching the fight, some of whom paid for it, used their mobile devices to capture the video and stream it for others to watch on Periscope. Periscope is one of a number of apps with this capability, and the most prominent given Twitter’s ownership.

A representative for Showtime declined to comment on the use of Periscope during the fight, while a spokesman for HBO did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The two companies already filed a joint lawsuit against sites that were planning to stream the fight for free, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Costolo wasn’t the only one to boast about the use of Periscope on the night of the fight, which Mayweather won by decision to remain undefeated. Chris Sacca, an early investor in Twitter, called Periscope the night’s winner “by a knockout,” and someone posted a stream from inside Pacquiao’s training room to the HBOboxing Twitter account.

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