Sky slams Parker fight pirates. It should chill

The pay TV broadcaster has 99 problems, but this ain't one.

See also: Sky and Duco vs the Parker pirates: a Q&A

Sky TV has slammed people who watched the Parker fight on via Facebook.

It should relax. The pay TV broadcaster has 99 problems, but this ain't one.

The Joseph Parker-Carlos Takam bout screened on Sky's Arena channel as a $49.99 pay-per-view event. And Duco sold tickets to the fight itself for $299 (and in a Duco promotion on Trade Me, they reached $555).

But one Facebook user, BeastMoz, offered the fight free on his public account simply by pointing his smartphone at his TV screen then streaming the video to all-comers though Facebook's Live Video feature.

"We take piracy seriously. It is theft," Sky comms director Kirsty Way tells NBR.

"Regardless what your opinion is on the price of something, if you aren’t happy with it, you can’t just steal it. This is not a grey area, if you haven’t paid for something, taking it, or watching it, is wrong and illegal.

"If I don’t like the price of milk or a new version of Minecraft, whatever, I’m not going to steal it, I’m going to pay for it or go without. It's my decision, I can have an opinion about the price but taking it without paying is plain wrong."

My take: Sky TV investors have 99 headaches, but this aint one.

There have been media reports that 100,000 watched the fight through BeastMoze's account. I haven't seen any verification of that. I have seen that a brief clip of some pre-fight action now has 145,000 views. I'm picking most are those who've nosied in after the fact and only ever saw the meaningless two-minute clip that remains on the account.

Regardless, my broader point is I don't think any one who is a serious pay-per-view prospect for Sky TV, or a serious potential ticket buyer for Duco, will pass on paying for the fight on the off-chance someone will stream it on the likes of Facebook Live Video, or live from the event itself via the likes of Periscope. You don't know if a feed will appear, or when it will get shut off by Facebook or from a cuff around the ear from Dean Lonergan.

There was a celebrated instance last year where hundreds of thousands tuned in after an audience member used their smartphone to broadcast the Mayweather v Pacquiao fight in Las Vegas in May last year. But that's looking very much like a one off, driven by geek rubber-neckers intrigued by the potential for Periscope rather than boxing fans. After all, what true fan, or even vague fan, would settle for a blocky stream from the back row, with one angle only?).

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ms Way would not comment on whether Sky has approached Facebook to take action, but you don't have to read very hard between the lines.

"Sky is always working hard to protect our investments and those of content creators," she says. "I'm not going into detail about what action we are taking and what do we already do. That wouldn’t be smart."

And fight promotor Dean Lonergan is threatening anyone who screens a fight over social media with legal action.

I can see how Sky and Lonergan want to put the pressure on. But I just don't see this as a genuine revenue threat — that is, unless Facebook refuses to at least caution BeastMoze, and threaten him or anyone else who rescreens copyright material with account suspension. Stay tuned for Facebook's response. 

And from Sky's point of view, it could look to its new Fanpass platform to commercially exploit interest in no-contract streaming in a one-off event like the Parker-Takam fight.

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