Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Joseph Parker fight streaming - Duco needs to get real

The price was not right, and the floodgates opened.

It's easy to understand where furious boxing promoter Dean Lonergan from Duco is coming from. But trying to land a knockout blow on illegal streaming won't work -- he's got more chance of pocketing mist. And I believe that Duco made a mistake, pricing the Joseph Parker-Carlos Takam fight at $50 for Sky subscribers.

The internet is a crazy place full of ethical grey areas and techno mysteries, so I stand to be corrected. But Lonergan's threat to hunt down the transgressors, many of whom were doing what only feels natural to them these days, seems very old school. And while he has targeted Facebook links, I know of others who found the fight in other ways including through links to Britain's Sky Sports. One of these people said the British coverage was superior.

Duco needs to find other ways of winning this war. There are too many clever people out there, too many easy ways to hide, too many corporations far bigger than Duco who have taken on the masses and failed.

Work with the public and its money, not against it. And here's the kicker -- getting content via Sky doesn't even come into the thinking for a lot of younger people, who operate via things like Facebook.

And here's another huge point: at that $50 price, I'm guessing many of the illegal streamers would not have paid for the fight anyway so Lonergan has not lost as much as he might imagine or claim. Which is easy for me to say of course, whereas Lonergan and Duco are feeling ripped off.

Former Kiwi forward Lonergan has come out swinging alright, labeling those who have effectively put their hand in his wallet as "lowlifes" after tens of thousands streamed the fight for free.

Lonergan and Duco have put everything on the line, created sport that would not have been here otherwise, and are due their rewards. I'm amongst Duco's fans for their courage, enterprise and vision and once named Lonergan Aucklander of the Year.

But the $50 price tag on the IBF eliminator fight and its vaudevillian undercard was -- in my opinion -- too high, a significant $10 increase on the usual boxing rate which seems quite steep anyway.

Watching illegally obtained online content is becoming a bit like using a cellphone while driving -- citizens who would otherwise regard themselves as perfectly law-abiding do it as standard practice. The $50 price was a handy moral loophole. And unfortunately for Duco, now that many people know that many other people saw it for free, they will be less willing to part with their money in future.

There is already significant resistance against Sky's subscription rate, especially as a core product -- Super Rugby -- is shambolic and so erratic in quality. As for hunting down the alleged villains, the illegal download world is full of techno geniuses and willing participants who are virtually impossible to track down, especially if they know they are being hunted.

Put it this way: Lonergan would have more friends in this argument if the price was significantly lower. This is not about right and wrong, it's about what works. Quite clearly, a lot of people have decided to go backchannel.

Joseph Parker is Duco's prized project and an almost perfect storm so far, the longstanding friendship between Lonergan and trainer Kevin Barry at the heart of the deal. It has so many amazing strands, not the least being what Barry learnt from his eventually ill-fated partnership with David Tua. New Zealand wants to go along for the Parker ride, but not at any cost.

People are financially hurting out there. There is hard sell and tempting products everywhere, and not enough money to pay for them.

As a comparison, the battle between boxing legends Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather cost $50. Mixed martial arts is booming and a card including superstars Conor McGregor and Holly Holm cost $30.

Nudging the price upwards loosens people's ethics. And much bigger outfits than Duco -- like failing geo-blockers Netflix -- have been unable to stem the tide. Duco needs to think again.

- NZ Herald

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