Netflix stays in live sports ring with Mike Tyson, Jake Paul boxing match

Netflix continues to enter the ring for live streamed events and sports drama, on Thursday announcing plans to stream a live heavyweight boxing match between former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and YouTube influencer turned professional boxer Jake Paul.

The live streamed fight between Tyson and Paul is slated to take place at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on July 20. It’s part of a deal with Most Valuable Promotions, a production company founded by Paul and Nakisa Bidarian in 2021 to disrupt combat sports.

It marks Netflix’s third live sports event. Earlier events include The Netflix Cup, which was a live November golf tournament featuring  PGA tour players and F1 drivers from Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive to Survive and Full Swing series. Last weekend it held the Netflix Slam live event, marking its second, in a tennis exhibition match between Rafel Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz, which was streamed globally. Netflix has also looked to live events other than sports, including a Chris Rock stand-up special in 2023 as the SVOD’s first live streamed event.

And July’s event isn’t the first time Netflix is going to the mat for sports-related programming. Earlier this year the streamer announced a major $5 billion, 10-year deal for WWE Raw pro wrestling rights, starting in 2025. The deal also allows for Netflix to develop original programming around WWE storylines and characters.

Speaking on the company’s earnings call in January, Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos said WWE Raw represents sports entertainment, falling “right in the sweet spot of our sports business, which is the drama of sports.”

Executives on the call noted the WWE deal didn’t reflect a change in Netflix’s strategy on sports but should also “add some fuel” to its nascent ad business.

Aligning with that strategy, the July boxing showdown could be poised to deliver some drama and potentially attract a range of viewers, as the announcement noted the match, which will be streamed globally, “connects six generations of sports fans.”  

Netflix’s Gabe Spitzer, VP of Nonfiction Sports, in the announcement, played up and pointed to the entertainment value of the Tyson and Paul matchup.

“Mike Tyson is one of the biggest icons in boxing history and Jake Paul is one of the biggest disruptors in boxing history,” said Spitzer in a statement. “Saturday, July 20 will be pure drama in the ring in Texas."

The bout marks Tyson’s first since 2020 and the second in 2024 for Paul, the latter who has risen in the boxing world with a 9-1 record.

“It’s crazy to think that in my second pro fight, I went viral for knocking out Nate Robinson on Mike Tyson’s undercard. Now, less than four years later, I’m stepping up to face Tyson myself to see if I have what it takes to beat one of boxing’s most notorious fighters and biggest icons,” said Paul in a statement.

Paul’s latest success included a knockout win against Ryan Bourland last weekend, with the boxer’s sights “set on becoming world champion.” Tyson meanwhile counts 50 total wins, including 37 consecutive victories, 33 of which were knockouts.

“I'm very much looking forward to stepping into the ring with Jake Paul at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas,” said Tyson in a statement. “He's grown significantly as a boxer over the years, so it will be a lot of fun to see what the will and ambition of a ‘kid’ can do with the experience and aptitude of a GOAT.  It's a full circle moment that will be beyond thrilling to watch; as I started him off on his boxing journey on the undercard of my fight with Roy Jones and now I plan to finish him.”

Paul isn’t a stranger to Netflix either, as the boxer was featured in an episode of the streamer’s Untold series last year.

Earlier sports-related content efforts have had success in attracting and resonating with audiences. Netflix’s first season of Formula 1: Drive to Survive, which featured behind-the-scenes access to race teams, helped fuel some of the growing fandom for the racing sport in the U.S. A 2022 survey from Morning Consult that showed U.S. growth in F1 popularity at the time, found more than half of self-identified F1 fans said the Netflix series played a role in their becoming a fan of the sport, including 30% who cited the show as a major reason and 23% reporting it as a minor reason.

Netflix then parlayed its F1 docuseries and Full Swing golf series into the live sports event that brought celebrity golfers and drivers from the respective shows together as they competed in The Netflix Cup in November.

Other Netflix sports-related series include NASCAR: Full Speed, Quarterback, Tour de France: Unchained, Under Pressure: The U.S. Women’s World Cup Team, and Six Nations: Full Contact.