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Graziadio Sports Economist Weighs in on Mayweather vs. McGregor Fight

graziadio sports mayweather mcgregor

The most-talked about fight of the year (perhaps decade) between popular mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor and world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather garnered an almost unprecedented amount of attention. The fight broke the previous pay-per-view record, pulling in over $400 million, despite millions of reported illegal streams. Though McGregor, the MMA champion, ultimately lasted longer than most might have expected, he lost by technical knockout in the 10th round to the still-undefeated Mayweather.

VFT Solutions, an organization dedicated to determining how many viewers media companies are losing to illegal streaming, showed over 7,000 live streams in social media platforms, with around 100 million viewers. This is a record high for (monitored) illegal streaming of a single live event.

In an article about this piracy, Forbes asked Paul Gift, sports economist at Pepperdine’s Graziadio School of Business, for his insight. Gift holds a Ph.D. in economics from UCLA, and is a business and analytics writer for the MMA publication Bloody Elbow.

“For certain fans, ‘The Money Fight’ may have seemed in advance to be a competitively-matched clash of boxing and MMA champions,” Gift said. “But for many others, it was more of a spectacle fight, something you might want to see but not necessarily pay for. Add in a higher-than-usual pay-per-view price of $99.99 for HD and there was certainly a strong incentive to find alternative viewing points.”

Though there are multiple organizations capable of monitoring illegal live streams, there is not yet an effective, actionable solution for having illegal streams of short, live events stopped by social media channels.

It is possible certain unique contributing factors yielded a higher volume of illegal streaming of this event. For instance, UFC’s streaming site crashed a couple of hours before the fight even began, so viewers were likely looking for a substitute. The crossover between MMA and boxing audiences might have also led to more illegal streaming. Additionally, the fight was highly publicized, and many illegal streaming sites advertised offering the event.

Tens Of Millions Watched Mayweather Beat McGregor On Pirate Streams,” was written by fellow Graziadio professor and frequent Forbes contributor Nelson Granados.

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