In the past day, boxing fans on the internet went a little bit nuts. The long-awaited (like, decade-long) rematch between Anthony Mundine and Danny Green — a controversial 2006 fight itself — wasn’t really the reason, though. It was the match before that, between a rugby player and his slightly chubby, boyish rival.
That match was enough to get a Holden mechanic from Brisbane to stream the fight to the world using Facebook Live video on his phone. Foxtel, though, wasn’t exactly happy.
This was the reason that everyone went slightly mental:
"don't talk shit about me on IRC bro" pic.twitter.com/GSO3RefSfo
— Alex Walker (@dippizuka) February 3, 2017
The mainstream boxing debut of Wallabies rugby player (and “occasional boxer”, according to his Wikipedia page) Quade Cooper was the undercard for the Mundine/Green fight, and Cooper was matched up against Jack McInnes. McInnes, to be honest, doesn’t look like he’s in top form.
It’s a fight that got a particular corner of the internet very interested. Viewing it through Foxtel was a $59.95 pay-per-view charge, only available to Australian subscribers of the service.
And so, as the match started, Brisbane mechanic Darren Sharpe got out his phone, pointed at his TV, and turned on Facebook Live video streaming.
Darren Sharpe’s Facebook profile is very public. The stream became popular. And then really popular. At its peak, the stream topped out at 112,000 viewers.
And then Sharpe got a call from Foxtel.
You can watch it in the video above. A couple of minutes into the call, Sharpe muted the Foxtel fight playing on his TV and turned his phone onto speaker.
“Sorry mate, just had to turn [the TV] on mute… So, you want me to turn off the Foxtel because I can’t stream it?”
The Foxtel rep responds: “No, I want you to stop streaming it on Facebook. Just keep watching the fight at home, there’s no dramas with that at all, just don’t stream it on Facebook.”
Sharpe again: “Mate, I’ve got 78,000 viewers here that aren’t going to be happy with you… I’m not doing anything wrong, I mean what can you do?”
Foxtel: “It’s against the Copyright Act of Australia, mate.”
You owe it to yourself to watch the three minute exchange. Sharpe goes on to ask how Foxtel got his number, and the representative says that he or his partner used to have a Foxtel account.
Sharpe, who works at the Zupps Ashley Holden & HSV car dealer in Queensland, does an
admirable job of stalling the Foxtel guy while the Cooper/McInnes fight starts.
“91,000 viewers watching now without sound — I mean, I don’t think you can do this mate. Will I get a refund?” And then, later on… “I’m just gonna whack the sound back on for me viewers.”
You can watch eight and a half minutes of the Facebook Live stream here on YouTube — the entire Quade Cooper/Jack McInnes match-up. It’s only at the end of that fight that Sharpe agrees to turn off the stream, apologising to his streaming viewers:
“Sorry I couldn’t play the last fight, from the bottom of my heart, I really am… Foxtel’s obviously a bunch of fuckin’ wankers, sorry about the language.”
At the end of the day, Sharpe’s 110,000-plus viewers got to see the fight that they wanted.
Sure, Sharpe seems to be pretty clearly in breach of the Copyright Act, but at the same time we have to admire his gall.
And, predictably, the memes are popping up quickly:
A Foxtel spokesperson told Gizmodo that since Foxtel subscriptions to the Mundine/Green match were residential only, it requested the Facebook Live stream be disabled. It has also clarified that “the appropriate legal action” will be taken against Sharpe.
“The subscriptions to the February 3 Green vs. Mundine match were restricted to individual residential use only and were not authorised for rebroadcast. What occurred last night on Facebook is stealing and it’s harmful to the future of boxing and live sport. The appropriate legal action will be taken.”
At the moment, Sharpe’s “legal cost” fund on GoFundMe is sitting at $310.
In the main event, Danny Green went on to closely beat Anthony Mundine. But that kind of achievement really just pales in comparison to Sharpe’s.