Periscope the big winner for Mayweather-Pacquiao pay-per-view dodgers

HBO and Showtime networks charged $100 a pop to see the history-making fight, but netizens used technology -- specifically Twitter's Periscope tool for live broadcasting -- to watch the match for free.

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Saturday's Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fight pulled in hundreds of millions of dollars. Showtime

Manny Pacquiao isn't the only one questioning Floyd Mayweather's unanimously-judged welterweight boxing win Saturday night. According to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, that title goes to Periscope, the company's tool for live video broadcasting.

Shortly after the boxing decision, Costolo turned to his company's social networking platform to declare Periscope the night's true winner.

Internet denizens without TVs or the inclination to spend Showtime and HBO's steep $100 pay-per-view price turned to Periscope instead, where they could watch the bout for free on their smartphone, tablet or computer screen.

To do this, anyone with an iPhone or iPad can log into Twitter's Periscope app and start a broadcast, pointing their device camera to the TV, thereby passing along their own view to anyone following the user's live stream.

HBO and Showtime reached out to Twitter and other live-broadcast services, like Meerkat, according to a Bloomberg Business source, asking them to stop or otherwise take down streams of the flight. Regardless, the two companies had allegedly filed an injunction against other sites for copyright infringement, says The Hollywood Reporter.

It wasn't immediately clear how many Periscope viewers tuned in to the match. Representatives for Twitter, HBO and Showtime did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Even with high levels of Periscope piracy, the historical match was projected to earn hundreds of millions of dollars, a large slice of that going to HBO and Showtime, respectively. The two networks partnered-up to produce and broadcast the Las Vegas event. Final earnings have not yet been disclosed. (Disclosure: CNET parent company CBS also owns Showtime.)

This would be Twitter's first legal case against Periscope; the social network only acquired the streaming startup in mid-March. Like other forms of peer-based piracy, any action taken against Twitter for Periscope streams involves users sharing content they likely consider "theirs" for free, and from their own living rooms.

The fact that Twitter CEO Costolo used his company's own social platform to congratulate Periscope is perhaps the night's most damaging jab, and one aimed squarely at Big Boxing.