Twitch interview: EMEA partnerships director Chris Mead (aka MingLee) on UK expansion, rivals and growth in mobile eSports

Says that PC brands should be creating strategies to 'ride the wave' of streaming
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Gaming streaming platform Twitch is growing in the UK, and is striking big partnerships with PC vendors and game developers like Super Evil Megacorp.

Some 18 months after Amazon acquired Twitch, PCR editor Dominic Sacco speaks to EMEA partnerships director Chris Mead (the face of the 'MingLee' Twitch emote) about Twitch's strategy and the evolving streaming space.

PCR: Can you tell us what kind of growth Twitch has seen since being bought by Amazon? How popular is Twitch in the UK specifically?

Chris Mead: 8.5 million people on average come to Twitch every day. That’s up 20 per cent over 2015.

We don’t break out our viewership by region, but in terms of size, US and Europe are equitable in size.

As for the role Amazon has played in our growth, they continue to support our vision by helping us do the things we want, but faster and better. The Twitch culture remains the same as the day we launched.

What is Twitch’s strategy in the UK?

The UK is an important territory for Twitch since Europe represents a huge percentage of our userbase.

To that end, we are currently staffing up and building out our new UK office to expand our local footprint even more.

You recently partnered with Vainglory developer Super Evil Megacorp. What kind of a future do you envisage for mobile eSports?

We see great potential for the rise of esports in the mobile space.

There's a future in mobile eSports without a doubt - and Vainglory is proof of it. With 150 million minutes viewed, it was the fastest growing mobile game on Twitch in 2015.

When you consider that there are over three billion touchscreen devices and only around 800 million gaming PCs, mobile eSports definitely has the potential to become a leader in the space.

How important is streaming to businesses, and specifically, PC hardware companies? How can they get involved with Twitch?

The streaming market is continuing to grow on all fronts, including the number of broadcasters, viewers and its overall influence on purchasing decisions.

Therefore every brand that is part of the live streaming ecosystem should be creating strategies to ride this wave, many of which already are.

While we already have relationships with many of the biggest brands, a great way to kickstart a new relationship with Twitch and our community is through involvement with TwitchCon 2016 (contact info: exhibitors@twitchcon.com)

What are your thoughts on non-gaming Twitch shows emerging, like Bob Ross?

Twitch’s foray into the creative space was the result of our gaming community doing game related art. We originally created a small channel for those types of broadcasts, but once it was discovered by our broader community, it really took off and was flooded with all types of creative content. The result was creating a dedicated landing page for our creative broadcasters which we launched with the Bob Ross marathon. 

Bob Ross was the original streamer in the sense that he would talk to his viewers as if they were in the room with him. Also, many of our artists cited him as an influence, which made him the perfect fit. We love how our community has embraced Bob Ross since it’s their collective voice that inspired us to bring things like his show to the platform.

How does Twitch decide what to promote on the homepage? Is it purely based on your commercial partners, or things that are most interesting, or a mix of both?

The Twitch front page features content curated by a small team with recommendations from many of the staff at large.

In terms of the type of content, we feature everything from major events to popular broadcasters, some of which is sponsored, a lot of which isn’t. We also have our Spotlight Partner section that’s devoted to up and coming broadcasters who aren’t huge yet, but we feel our community would love.

What do you think of Twitch rivals emerging such as DingIt? 

Although Twitch is cognisant of the competitive landscape, the direction of our brand is dictated solely by listening to what our community wants.

Right now that has been iterations to our platform, such as fully migrating to HTML and rolling out more social features, while also focusing on our global presence to ensure every territory has the same quality of service.

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