Twitch’s battle to remain the top dog of eSports streaming

In the face of growing competition, Twitch is still the streaming space’s market leader and this is helped by its pro-gaming content.

In the face of growing competition, Twitch is still the streaming space’s market leader and this is helped by its pro-gaming content.

We speak to eSports boss Nick Allen about staying at the top

How would assess 2016 so far for Twitch?

With the eSports partnerships we’ve entered into this year, combined with the exciting growth of the industry, 2016 has been promising and fascinating. We have a lot of interesting initiatives in the pipeline that we can’t announce yet, but it’s safe to say there are big things on the horizon.

Twitch continues to be the market leader in the eSports streaming sector. How have you maintained this position?

Memes, mostly. Seriously though, the way we have maintained our position is by listening to our community and letting them dictate the direction of the brand, rather than presuming we know what they want. Our core focus is to make great experiences for both the broadcaster and viewer, whether that’s with eSports or beyond, and our community’s input is the best way to achieve that.

How are you evolving your offering with eSports in mind?

As the eSports industry continues to grow, along with more publishers and developers making pro-gaming focused titles, we’ve been scaling our team to help address the growing need for eSports expertise. Whether it’s consulting with publishers and developers, or being more hands-on with league operations, we’re here to help the eSports ecosystem grow and be sustainable. We are also continuing to maintain a strong relationship with the players who stream on our platform and are constantly evaluating new ways to make them successful, such as our recent introduction of [animated emotes] Bits for our Cheering feature. We most recently enabled Cheering during Evo so that viewers could cheer for the fighter they wanted to win with a lot of users embracing it.

There are a growing number of streaming firms – such as Hitbox and DingIt – entering the market. Competition is good for any market, but are you worried about the increase in streaming companies?

We like that there are other players in the space since it helps validate that game-related video is an important part of the entertainment industry. That being said, the direction of our brand is driven by our community. For example, a popular request was HTML5, so we have recently entered our HTML5 closed beta based on this demand. Also, one of Twitch’s defining characteristics is the native emote-driven language found in our chat. It is based on a rich narrative that has evolved over time and, as a result, is not easy to replicate.

So far this year, Twitch has partnered with Psyonix for a Rocket League tournament, and Super Evil Megacorp (SEMC) for Vainglory promotion on your site. Why are you entering into deals like this?

We want to see the eSports industry grow as a whole and both these brands represent nascent areas in the eSports space. Rocket League, for example, ushers in an era of easy to pick-up-and-play games, offering a more accessible experience compared to the industry’s popular MOBAs. With Vainglory, it expands eSports to the mobile market where the 800m gaming PCs are dwarfed in comparison to the 3bn smartphones and tablets. Due to their huge potential, we are excited to be partnered with Psyonix and SEMC and look forward to helping them develop and evolve their eSports efforts to ensure healthy, sustainable growth.

How do you see eSports in your business development going forward?

The growth of pro-gaming means that more people will be interested in consuming eSports content, which means more people will come to Twitch to watch. If you look at the channel directory, amidst the broadcaster channels you’ll see both competition streams and competitive player streams – eSports is a fundamental piece of Twitch’s DNA.

We’re going to continue to educate the industry about how to leverage live streaming, whether it’s to foster a community, build a brand, or strengthen a career, while making strategic partnerships when it makes sense.

Twitch is a partner for the eSports Industry Awards on Monday, November 21st