The live streaming company Twitch is quickly establishing itself as a behemoth in the field, with over 45 million viewers watching 12 billion minutes of content a month.
PCR asked Matthew DiPietro, VP of marketing at the firm, about the future of online video content and how businesses can take capture the platform's unique audience.
How important would you say that streaming sites such as Twitch are to businesses?
Our audience is comprised solely of gamers primarily in the 15-35 year old demographic. Because many are cord-cutters [viewers who don't watch traditional television programming], they are a very tough audience to reach, yet one of the most desirable demographics for advertisers. This makes Twitch extremely important for businesses targeting that audience, especially those marketing video game products.
Also, when you say “streaming sites such as Twitch,” it should be noted there aren’t other sites that boast the same appeal as Twitch. In addition to being the world’s leading video platform and community for gamers based on 45 million unique visitors a month, no other site has established itself as a platform for the entire video game ecosystem. We currently have more than a hundred publisher and developer channels, including PlayStation, Microsoft, Electronics Arts, Riot, 2K, dozens of the top media outlets such as IGN, GameSpot, Polygon and Joystiq, every major press conference from E3 and PAX to gamescom and BAFTA, and of course the top teams, players and events in the e-sports scene. Therefore, if you are a business looking to reach the broadest dedicated gaming audience, Twitch is it.
What advice would you offer businesses looking to harness the massive popularity of streaming? Specifically, what opportunities does Twitch itself offer for businesses?
Twitch can be leveraged in many ways. First and foremost, if the business is in the games space, they should be launching a Twitch channel to promote their product in the same way they would leverage other social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Beyond that, Twitch offers an array of ad products from traditional ad placements to innovative new offerings like 'Commercial-Free on Twitch', which launched in October. The latter enables companies to offer an ad-free experience to the Twitch community for a day with a short bumper that touts the sponsor. Several companies have already embraced this new ad product including Sony PlayStation.
The PS4's Playroom app was in the news following its launch after questionable behaviour was broadcasted by a select few PS4 owners. What difficulties – both technical and moral – are there when trying to offer users the privilege of streaming (which, it could be argued, could be seen as a platform for free speech) while avoiding such activity?
First off, Twitch only allows video game related content, so that makes our platform more manageable than content found on other streaming platforms with broader focuses. Also, it’s worth noting that these challenges are not unique to Twitch. It's a challenge that appeared in 2005 with the rise of social media. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the rest have all had to deal with undesirable user generated content. Like them, we too have clear terms of service and a code of conduct. We also have a combination of technology, community and full-time staff members diligently monitoring the site and enforcing those terms.
The League of Legends final in October attracted 32 million online viewers – three times the peak viewership of The X Factor here in the UK. With television facing more and more competition from online viewing services, how will the shift towards streaming affect the evolution of streaming itself? For example, will we see streaming channels that are essentially television channels, intercut with adverts?
E-sports has been around for quite a long time, actually, and broadcast/cable experiments have met with mixed success at best. It’s only in the last few years that e-sports has been able to affordably distribute live video via the web, and that – alongside Twitch – is one of the reasons for its recent success. Also, e-sports content doesn’t really fit a television format. There are often many channels live at any given time during a tournament and the e-sports audience really wants to consume their content via the Web. Many of them are cord-cutters who don’t even subscribe to Twitch.
What plans does Twitch have for the future, both immediate and far-off?
Our goal has always been to be wherever the gamers are, so we are continuing to expand upon our mobile offerings. We are also working with our console partners to help embellish the functionality of their current Twitch integrations.
What are your predictions for the future of streaming?
We envision a future where playing a game and streaming it are the same thing. When you fire up your console or PC, you will intuitively click on the live broadcast to Twitch button which will be as prominent on your gaming systems as the Facebook and Twitter icons are on your other devices. And this future is not too far off.