Lonergan to boxing thieves: Get in the ring

Joseph Parker fights Carlos Takam (Photosport)
Joseph Parker fights Carlos Takam (Photosport)

Boxing fans who illegally streamed Joseph Parker's fight at the weekend will soon have their own bout on their hands.

Tens of thousands watched a stream of Parker's pay-to-view fight on Saturday night, and Duco Events promoter Dean Lonergan wants them to pay up.

"It's a very complex business, it's an expensive thing to put on, and it doesn't help when you've got people stealing the feed," he told Paul Henry on Monday.

With many sports exclusive to pay TV, fans are increasingly turning to legally dubious methods to get their fix. Already there are numerous websites offering free, low-quality streams of competitions like cricket's Indian Premier League, and peer-to-peer apps like Ace Stream are even bringing it in full HD.

But yesterday's news still came as a bit of surprise to Lonergan, who initially called fans who broadcast it on the internet "lowlife s**theads".

"I got a phonecall out of the blue about an issue I knew nothing about and I sort of reacted in a kneejerk way. When you have people who basically steal our copyright… and give it away for free, it's like, well, if you had 21,000 people watching your livestream, I think you might owe Sky TV and ourselves $1 million."

The fight, broadcast on SKY, cost $50 to watch on top of the normal subscription cost, which SKY put up last week to make up for falling subscriber numbers.

Lonergan says if that's too much, there are other ways to watch the fight that won't attract a lawsuit.

"You've just got to go to your local bar 'cause there's over 200 bars up and down the country [that screened the bout]. Or if you want it cheaper -- and my family do this -- get 10 people together and pay $5 each. It's not exactly expensive... you go for three, four or five hours on TV, mate, it's a great night out. We are going to do our best to fix this."

It's believed more than 100,000 watched the fight for free on Facebook alone.

Internet NZ's Andrew Cushen says boundaries are constantly being tested online.

"The internet has produced a new range of technologies that people can use to share content. Some of the sharing will be done there will be stuff that's exclusive to other mediums."

Copyright lawyer Rick Shera said it would be hard for Duco and SKY to prove 100,000 cases of lost revenue as a result of online streaming.

"Had it not been for the infringement, would 100,000 people have paid $50 to view it? The answer is probably no," he told the New Zealand Herald.

"The court would hear evidence on what the likely viewership would there have been and how would that have played out."