Pay-Per-View Rush Delayed Start of Mayweather-Pacquiao Fight – Wall Street Journal

Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, throws a jab at Manny Pacquiao during Saturday night’s bout in Las Vegas.
ENLARGE

Boxing fans who waited five long years to see Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao duke it out had to wait a little longer Saturday night as a rush of pay-per-view orders caused technical difficulties that led to a delay of the fight.

While the fight had no official start time, Time Warner Inc.
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’s HBO and CBS Corp.
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’s Showtime, which were partners on the telecast, were hoping for the first punch to be thrown no later than 11:15 p.m. Eastern time.

Instead, it kicked off about midnight. Often big boxing matches don’t start until after midnight but the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout garnered attention far beyond hard-core fans, and the promoters and networks didn’t want to frustrate TV viewers with a very late start.

Many major pay-TV distributors, including satellite broadcaster DirecTV,
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Cox Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc.,
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had challenges with heavy demand for the fight, which led to glitches and slow processing of orders. Subscribers took to Twitter to complain and some distributors, including Charter Communications Inc.,
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responded that they were aware of the problem and were working to fix it.

No announcements about the cause of the delay were made in the arena, but on the telecast, the TV issues were acknowledged.

It cost $99 to order the fight in high definition and $89 for standard definition. Many people congregated in bars and restaurants to watch.

A new form of piracy also emerged during the fight as some used the Periscope app to provide a live stream of fight coverage.

The high interest in the fight is expected to result in record pay-per-view buys. Official numbers won’t be available until later in the week but pre-fight estimates from industry executives were around three million. That would be a record, topping the 2.48 million that bought Mr. Mayweather’s 2007 fight against Oscar De La Hoya.

Write to Joe Flint at joe.flint@wsj.com