Before the sweat was dry in the ring following Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s defeat of UFC champion Conor McGregor on Saturday, Showtime had another major fight on its hands — a class-action lawsuit from customers unhappy because of streaming issues that plagued the fight and the lead-up bouts.
Portland, Ore., boxing fan Zack Bartel paid to stream the fight in high-definition through the Showtime app but says all he saw was “grainy video, error screens, buffer events, and stalls.”
Bartel is suing Showtime for unlawful trade practices and unjust enrichment, alleging the network rushed its pay-per-view streaming service to the market without securing the bandwidth necessary to support the scores of cable-cutting fans.
“Instead of being upfront with consumers about its new, untested, underpowered service, defendant caused likelihood of confusion and misunderstanding as to the source and quality of the HD video consumers would see on fight night,” writes attorney Michael Fuller in the complaint filed late Saturday in Oregon federal court. “Defendant intentionally misrepresented the quality and grade of video consumers would see using its app, and knowingly failed to disclose that its system was defective with respect to the amount of bandwidth available, and that defendant’s service would materially fail to conform to the quality of HD video defendant promised.”
The complaint, which is largely composed of screenshots and tweets, is seeking for each member of the class actual damages or $200 in statutory damages, whichever is greater. (Read the complaint below.)
The proposed class includes Oregon consumers who viewed Showtime’s app advertisement on iTunes and paid $99.99 to stream the fight, but were unable to view the fight live on the app “in HD at 1080p resolution and at 60 frames per second, and who experienced ongoing grainy video, error screens, buffer events, and stalls instead.”
Showtime senior vp sports communications Chris DeBlasio says anyone who had issues with a cable or satellite feed should contact their provider, but Showtime will handle complaints from anyone who bought the fight through Showtimeppv.com and the ShowtimePPV app.
“We have received a very limited number of complaints and will issue a full refund for any customer who purchased the event directly from Showtime and were unable to receive the telecast,” he says.
Pay-Per-View Live Events Inc. also sent The Hollywood Reporter an email that directed dissatisfied customers to their service providers. “Unfortunately, we are receiving a huge number of complaints from a large number of customers who are not using our services but a different provider (UFC),” says the message. “We can only express that we understand your pain for not being able to see the special event but again we are not the company that provided the stream or actual event. You will need to contact the actual provider such as Xfinity, Showtime, HBO, UFC.tv etc. to request your refund.”
The plaintiffs are also represented by Geragos & Geragos.
Aug. 28, 1:45 p.m.: Updated with a statement from Showtime.