Twitch: a leader of gaming live-streaming eyes the entire live-streaming market

Twitch: a live-streaming company shifts its focus to grow non-gaming content on its platform

 

Twitch is a live-streaming platform that is most often associated with streaming of video games. The platform allows streamers to share their passions live, while interacting with viewers through the live-chat feature, where viewers can comment on the streamed content and react with emoticons. The website ranks 19th in the US and 34th globally in internet engagement, with tens of millions of visitors tune in to watch streams for close to 8 hours a day [1]. The live-streaming industry has seen tremendous 91.8% growth from 2019 to 2020, with most of this growth captured by Twitch, which boasted 63.6% of all hours watched and 91.1% share of all hours streamed [2]. The platform benefited greatly from shutdown of Microsoft’s Mixer, as it is now left competing only with Youtube’s Gaming and Facebook Gaming with 22.5% and 14.0% of the total hours watched, respectively.

Despite games such as Fortnite and League of Legends dominating the platform, Twitch’s focus on growing viewership and its diversity through the Just Chatting category has paid off. The category has experienced the most growth. [2] Although the category was created for content such as live cooking, fitness, music, and other content, the category allows successful streamers “just chatting” with their fans. Twitch has also been experimenting with streaming marathons, where millions of users to watch a TV-shows such as Pokemon and South Park at once.

Value Creation

Twitch allows streamers to gain a following as it boasts the largest community of viewers in a diverse content offering. It has also developed features for its streaming partners to grow their viewership. Consequently, many streamers, such as Michael Grzesiek (Shroud) and Ali Kabbani (Myth), gained celebrity status. [3] New streamers within already popular categories also benefit from the exposure of these celebrity streamers. It is also best retaining viewers, evident by the platform’s complete domination of all hours streamed. Twitch is able to do it through live interactions, which offers greater level of engagement. Finally, streamers who begin in one popular category, such as streaming Counter Strike games, can increase their audience by interacting with viewers in the Just Chatting category, expanding the reach of their brand to viewers who might not be interested in Counter Strike.

Publishers, such as Blizzard (World of Warcraft), Epic (Fortnite), and Riot (League of Legends), Twitch offers opportunities to advertise their products and host eSports tournaments to maintain user engagement. As many of these publishers operate on the “freemium” subscription model, they see a lot of value in their games remaining among top streaming categories.

Finally, Twitch provides entertainment value for viewers by connecting them to diverse content with added feature of live interactions. Many sign up to become better at playing a video game, but stay as they develop a more intimate relationship with their favorite streamers. The easy to navigate platform also promotes discovery of new categories, where viewers can discover new games or interests.

Value Capture

Twitch offers its streaming partners three ways to monetize on their content [4].

  1. Channel subscriptions: viewers can subscribe to exclusive content such as customized emoticons by paying $4.99, $9.99, $24.99 or by linking their Twitch accounts with their Amazon Prime account.
  2. Bits: viewers can purchase bits to use as currency to upgrade their emoticons, display their channel loyalty, vote in polls, and many other ways to enhance their live-interactive experience.
  3. Advertisements: streamers earn revenue for ads played on their channel and maintain the power to determine ad length and frequency. Twitch has also focused on extracting value from its thriving community by promoting collaborations between its popular streamers and companies such as MAC at their annual Twitchcon event. [5]

Twitch’s revenues exceed $1.5 billion and many of its top streamers earn over $100,000 annually [2,3].

Although Twitch dominates the industry today, its future growth will continue to rely on increasing the diversity of its community beyond gaming. The community has faced a lot of criticisms for the verbal abuse, sexism, and racism that disincentivizes engagement from streamers and viewers who do not fit the mold of its predominantly young and male user base. [6] As the live-streaming market continues to grow, Twitch will also see increased competition from YouTube and Facebook, including competition for its most popular streamers. Tyler Blevins (Ninja) was among the first celebrity streamers to leave the platform in 2019 for Microsoft’s Mixed. Reassuringly, he has chosen to return to Twitch after Mixed was shutdown at the end of last year.

References: 

[1] Alexa, 2021. The top 500 sites on the web. [online] Fortune. Available at: <https://fortune.com/2021/01/04/color-unicorn-funding-round-valuation-health-tech/> [Accessed 1 March 2021].

[2] May, E. Streamlabs & Stream Hatchet Q3 2020 Live Streaming Industry Report. Stream labs. Available at: <https://streamlabs.com/content-hub/post/streamlabs-and-stream-hatchet-q3-2020-live-streaming-industry-report> [Accessed 1 March 2021].

[3] Bellanger, C. 15 Twitch Gaming Streamers Worth Watching. Upfluence. Available at: <https://www.upfluence.com/influencer-marketing/15-twitch-gaming-streamers-worth-watching> [Accessed 1 March 2021].

[4] Twitch Partners. Twitch. Available at: <https://www.twitch.tv/p/partners/> [Accessed 1 March 2021].

[5] Park, G. Home Share 0 Gamers paved the road for a streaming future. Twitch wants to add more lanes. Washington Post. Available at: <https://www.washingtonpost.com/video-games/2019/10/03/gamers-paved-road-streaming-future-twitch-wants-add-more-lanes/> [Accessed 1 March 2021].

[6] Khalid, A. The future of live-streaming, for better or worse, depends on Twitch. Quartz. Available at: <https://qz.com/1747158/twitch-grows-as-non-gamer-live-streaming-expands-on-the-platform/> [Accessed 1 March 2021].

 

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Student comments on Twitch: a leader of gaming live-streaming eyes the entire live-streaming market

  1. Great article, Vartan! I’ve taken an interest to Twitch in the last year after covering a case on Ninja (Tyler Blevins) last semester in a BEMS course.

    I think the network effects we’ve seen are incredible: from super star talent like Ninja or even the popularity of Fortnite lifting Twitch’s popularity and usage. When it comes to diversifying their offerings, I’m curious as to how they plan to replicate the network effects, if at all. Given the criticism on the environment not being inclusive, diverse talent and management might be extremely additive.

    1. Shekeyla, I definitely agree. I think Twitch faces the same problem that Reddit is facing in terms of needing to monitor toxic behavior. Unlike Reddit, however, it is much more difficult to moderate live content. I too think they would benefit from diversity at all levels of the company. Increased diversity can also help them ideate new ways of expanding into other content areas.

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