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Were you watching the big boxing match last weekend? If you're scratching your head and wondering: "What big boxing match?" You're not alone. In one of those rare moments when real life resembles Celebrity Death Match, two competing YouTubers (Logan Paul and KSI) took to the ring in a ridiculous pay-per-view event they hoped would bring in some decent money.
Unfortunately, what the YouTubers hadn't counted on was Twitch pirates hijacking the live-stream. Making matters even worse for popular internet personalities pummeling each other for money, the hijacked live-streams, which anyone could view for free on Twitch, actually got more viewers than the YouTube pay-per-view stream.
What's a Twitch Pirate?
Twitch is a live streaming video platform geared towards video game and gaming enthusiasts. It allows just about anyone to set up a Twitch channel so that they can live-stream themselves playing video and even tabletop games. And while most of the adult world will balk and unabashedly ask: "Who in their right mind would want to watch someone else play video games?" Looking at the number of active streamers and number of active viewers that Twitch has on a daily basis is jaw dropping.
Twitch averages between half a million to two million active viewers on any given day. On the day of the Paul/KSI fight, the platform averaged just under 4 million viewers. While the YouTube pay-per-view event got about 800,000 viewers, the various hijacked Twitch streams accounted for approximately 1.2 million viewers. And like YouTube, Twitch allows streamers to monetize their own streams, so naturally, when countless pirates started streaming the YouTube fight, there's more to it than simply the YouTubers losing potential revenue ... the pirate streamers likely profited off the YouTubers, as some of the illegal streams had over 100,000 viewers, and in the world of streaming, more viewers equals more money (thanks to ad revenue).
Streamer Versus Platform Liability
Significantly, most of the tech reporting world explains that no one should be surprised by the Twitch pirates' actions. This is due not to very nature of the internet, but due to the fact that Twitch has a bit of a spotty history when it comes to the problem of pirated streams. Last year, it was reported that the Mayweather/McGregor fight was illegally streamed by millions, and often inadvertently thanks to social media shares, and popular sites like Twitch, Facebook and Periscope, which all allow just about anyone to livestream just about anything.
And though Twitch, and other platforms for live-streaming, may try to claim protection under the Communications Decency Act as an online platform, the fact that Twitch staff were seen watching the streams of the YouTube fight might not bode well when it comes time to assess liability.