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Floyd Mayweather Jnr v Conor McGregor superfight

Mayweather-McGregor pay-per-view broadcaster Showtime hit with lawsuit after streaming problems

Network says it will offer refund of US$99.99 for affected customers who bought the fight through its app and web client

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 August, 2017, 12:51pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 August, 2017, 12:51pm

The network behind the US pay-per-view showing of Floyd Mayweather’s win over Conor McGregor may find itself owing thousands of unhappy customers after being hit with a class-action lawsuit.

The suit was filed by lawyers Michael Fuller and Mark Geragos in a US District Court in Portland, Oregon, on behalf of an Oregon man and what it described as potentially thousands of other residents of the state.

The man, Zack Bartel, said he paid the US$99.99 fee to stream the fight in high-definition from a Showtime app, only to suffer through an unstable feed with poor resolution and numerous freezes.

“To his extreme disappointment and frustration, plaintiff (and thousands of other consumers) quickly learnt that defendant’s system was defective and unable to stream the Mayweather fight in high definition as defendant had advertised,” the lawsuit stated.

“Instead of being a ‘witness to history’ as defendant had promised, the only thing plaintiff witnessed was grainy video, error screens, buffer events, and stalls.”

The filing included several screen shots taken by Bartel, showing subpar video quality and an example of an error message. It also included many tweets by other frustrated would-be viewers who were complaining about the Showtime app.

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The lawsuit said that Showtime “rushed its pay-per-view streaming service to market, without securing enough networking bandwidth to support the number of subscribers who paid to watch the fight.

“Instead of being upfront with consumers about its new, untested, underpowered service, defendant caused likelihood of confusion and misunderstanding as to the source and quality of the high definition video consumers would see on fight night.”

“We received a very limited number of complaints,” Showtime executive Chris DeBlasio told the MMA Junkie website.

He said that his company would provide refunds for people who bought the fight through its app and web client.

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“Of course, the goal is to deliver at the highest quality all of the content,” DeBlasio added.

Showtime was among several providers of the fight, including cable and internet companies, struggling to provide a feed to all their customers.

The main event was delayed while technical issues were addressed, and Mayweather and McGregor did not start boxing until around midnight Eastern time in the US.

The lawsuit stated that by failing to warn consumers that its streaming product might fail, Showtime “wilfully violated the Oregon Unlawful Trade Practices Act”.

It said Bartel and other plaintiffs should be entitled to “actual damages or US$200 statutory damages, whichever is greater,” and that the Oregon class is “entitled to recover punitive damages”, given Showtime’s “wanton, outrageous and oppressive violation” of the rights of consumers in that state.

The day before the Mayweather-McGregor fight, a federal judge in California threw out a class-action lawsuit that was filed on behalf of boxing fans and pay-per-view customers complaining that Manny Pacquiao failed to disclose his shoulder injury before they paid to watch him take on Mayweather in May 2015.

That contest was a desultory affair, but Mayweather made over US$100 million off it and reportedly did so again in facing McGregor.