Netflix will livestream Tyson vs. Paul – if the infrastructure holds

The recently announced livestream of an exhibition boxing match between Mike Tyson and YouTuber Jake Paul will be a major test of Netflix’s infrastructure.

Even if boxing legend Tyson could only walk with the help of cane a couple of years ago, money is king, and he will fight Paul in July.

The battle will take place at the 80,000-capacity AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and is sure to be a spectacle – not only because both fighters bring terrific star power but also because the event will be shown live on Netflix, the largest streamer there is.

Sure, Netflix has experimented already with live sports over the last few months – it has streamed golf (Netflix Cup) and tennis (Netflix Slam) exhibition events. But this boxing bout is going to be the biggest test for its livestreaming capabilities.

That’s because major boxing matches – especially when Tyson is involved – usually attract huge watching audiences. And even though these types of fights are typically on pay per view, Netflix’s 260 million global subscribers will be able to watch for free.

This, of course, means that due to high viewership Netflix’s livestreaming infrastructure will have to be able to handle more simultaneous streams than ever before.

The streamer has faced issues with livestreaming before. In April 2023, Netflix was planning to stream a live reunion of its popular dating reality series Love Is Blind but the broadcast was hit by technical difficulties.

Viewers were met with an error screen at the designated time of the broadcast. Fans were mad, and in the end, Netflix had to simply film the special and make it available on-demand.

The incident might have scared Netflix off livestreaming for good – as well as advertisers who would ordinarily be very eager to fund live content, especially sports. But the company that has entered 2024 as the winner of the streaming wars is persistent.

Again, that’s also because if the mechanics work, livestreaming could become a significant step for Netflix. The streamer would be able to broadcast a much wider variety of content – live news, sports, and one-off events, for example.

More unique live offerings or even deals with elite sports tournaments such as the English Premier League (for now, those rights are still too expensive) would help Netflix avoid churn. Users would have more reasons to keep subscribing every month.

Finally, undoubtedly, live content could be extremely valuable if it is supported by ads. Netflix has already successfully introduced a cheap ad-based tier, after all, but advertisers will want to be sure that the live streams they’re funding will actually work.

Netflix seems confident. Starting in January, the streamer will be the home of World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) weekly live shows. Netflix acquired the rights to broadcast WWE’s flagship program for $5 billion.

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