independent– Former IBF champion Kell Brook is set to challenge undefeated Terence Crawford for the welterweight world title in Las Vegas on Saturday, with both boxers hoping to cement a legacy as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of their era.
Huge interest in the bout has once again raised concerns about rampant online piracy, with links to free live streams for people to watch online spreading across the internet in the build-up.
The match-up comes just two weeks after Oleksandr Usyk took on Derek Chisora, which saw hundreds of live streams shared across Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, as well as dedicated forums on Reddit and channels within messaging apps like Telegram and WhatsApp.
Illicit streaming sites are typically also discoverable through popular search engines like Google and DuckDuckGo, with websites ranking highly when searching for certain key words related to the event.
This weekend’s fight will be hosted by Premier Sports 1 in the UK, airing on Sky and Virgin TV, as well as on the Premier Player app and website. A monthly subscription for Premier Sports costs £9.99 per month for a six month term or £11.99 on a month-by-month basis.
The fee means some boxing fans will seek free ways to watch a live stream of the contest online through illicit sites and apps.
There has been a significant crackdown on such activity in the UK in recent months in an attempt to protect the earnings of the broadcasters and promoters.
Unusually, this action has targeted not just the people hosting the illegal live streams, but also the people watching them.
In September, UK police issued thousands of individual warning notices to people suspected of viewing free live streams.
Anti-piracy organisation FACT described it as “an alarming wake-up call” for anyone caught illegal streaming.
“It sends a really clear message to those facilitating this illegal activity and additionally to those choosing to consume content in this way: Users of illegal services are accountable for their actions and they will be pursued,” Kieron Sharp, CEO of FACT, told The Independent at the time.
“This is not a grey area. Piracy is illegal and you run the risk of prosecution and a criminal conviction.”