Mayweather-Pacquiao: Periscope ‘Won by Knockout’

Image: Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Manny Pacquiao

Floyd Mayweather Jr. celebrates the unanimous decision victory against Manny Pacquiao in their welterweight unification championship bout on May 2, 2015 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Al Bello / Getty Images

The so-called "fight of the century" ended with Floyd Mayweather beating Manny Pacquiao by a unanimous decision in Las Vegas on Saturday -- but live-streaming service Periscope may really have landed the knock-out blow.

Broadcasters suffered a major headache as some of those watching the fight -– which cost up to $100 to order on pay-per-view -– live-streamed the event on the Twitter-owned Periscope and, to a lesser extent, Meerkat apps.

The live-streaming of high-profile events had been widely expected after both Meerkat and Periscope gained in popularity earlier this year. Even HBO's own boxing Twitter account used Periscope to live-stream backstage footage and provide exclusive online content to its followers.

What the broadcaster did not want, however, was for the fight itself to be available –- for free -– online.

Of course, unauthorized streaming is not new, and fans are often able to find streams of big sports events or movies online.

Mayweather Beats Pacquiao in ‘Fight of the Century’ 1:31

But the ease with which events can be broadcast via live-streaming apps is a concern for cable operators. Last week HBO and Showtime filed a lawsuit to block a couple of websites that illegally wanted to stream the fight, but taking action against Periscope and Meerkat appears to be more complex.

The responses from Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo, and investor in the micro-blogging site, Chris Sacca, garnered attention online, as they both seemed to endorse live-streaming of rights-protected events.

Periscope co-founder, Kayvon Beykpour, however, denounced the illegal streams.

The high-cost of watching the fight was likely one factor that drove people to turn to live-streaming apps, but some cable companies also appeared unable to cope with demand, with many customers reporting technical difficulties ordering the fight.

What happened this weekend is likely to have sparked a new battle, this time between Twitter – which owns Periscope – and the cable companies, which could prove to be an even bigger fight than that between Mayweather and Pacquiao.

Comcast, the owner of CNBC, has invested in Meerkat.

More from CNBC