The fight will be broadcast live on BT Sport Box Office in the UK and via ESPN+ in the US, with the main event expected to begin at around 4am BST. The match-up and its undercard fights will cost UK fans a one-off payment of £19.95, however millions are expected to turn to illegal means to watch the so-called ‘Gypsy King’.
Fury’s last fight against WBC champion Deontay Wilder, which ended in a controversial draw, attracted an illegal audience of nearly 10 million viewers, according to figures from online piracy authority MUSO.
These views came from hundreds of illegal streaming domains, though the most popular way of watching the fight online for free was via YouTube.
Nearly one in five of the piracy audience came through YouTube, despite the Google-owned site attempting to crack down on copyrighted content. Often the links were taken down but new links typically tend to be shared by new accounts across social media sites like Twitter in the build up to the fight, making them hard to police.
“This is a huge audience that is, to all intents and purposes, being ignored,” MUSO CEO Andy Chatterly told The Independent. “Data like this offers insights that could help bring fans back to legal content, but they need to be acknowledged first.”
The recent heavyweight fight between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz attracted even more unlicensed viewers, with around 13 million people turning to illegal means to watch the unfancied Mexican fighter cause arguably the biggest heavyweight boxing upset of the 21st Century by beating the British world champion.
Even more illegal viewers came from streams hosted on YouTube, according to MUSO’s data, which showed an estimated 93 per cent of the audience share came from the popular video sharing platform.
“The Joshua vs. Ruiz fight has been the largest unauthorised audience that we’ve ever tracked across boxing and it’s staggering to see that 93 per cent of the audience watched via YouTube,” Mr Chatterley said. “This highly engaged audience offers up huge insight and, perhaps more importantly, significant commercial opportunity.”
BT Sport has previously taken the unconventional approach of making marquee sporting events like the Champions League Final freely available for anyone to watch through its YouTube channel.
While the broadcaster claims this is not a direct response to online piracy, the new approach meant football fans no longer needed to go through illegal channels to watch the game for free.
BT Sport was also able to monetise the audience by serving them adverts.