If you haven’t yet heard of Twitch, fear not, because this is exactly what I’m going to cover in this blog piece. Uncovering the mega giant world of gaming, streaming and everything in between, the main reason I write this piece is to educate you on the vitality of acknowledging that video games and their counterpart streaming services are the future of branding, partnerships, sponsorship and even sports.

Established in 2011, and now owned by global giant Amazon, Twitch is a popular online service for streaming of digital video broadcasts. Twitch is most commonly known as the world’s largest platform for online video game streaming, which sees both professional and amateur gamers alike live stream their games to an audience in the millions. Now, Twitch has expanded its offerings to not only video games, but to other live video content including music festivals like Ultra Music Festival Miami, individual music shows from global DJs, personal live vlogging (video blogging), talk shows, artwork shows and occasionally TV series.

Streaming on Twitch gives viewers multiple ways of witnessing what’s happening. There’s a main screen showing the live action of the video game, with smaller screens showing the Twitch gamer’s face and reactions, and sometimes even their fingers on keyboards or mouse pads too. On the right hand side of the screen, audiences are allowed to comment on the live footage in real time, creating a strong element of interaction and ability for streamers to directly communicate with their followers.

But what does this all mean to an audience who may not be interesting in digital video streaming? Twitch’s biggest drawcard is it’s gaming video streams, and has skyrocketed to fast become an online gaming beacon which is the largest in the globe. Twitch has over 15 million daily active users, which is a huge number when you consider that traffic is received in just one day. From its inception, over 355 billion minutes of streaming content has been watched. And with extreme numbers like these comes a lot of money to make.

The service is monetised through a number of methods, including compulsory advertisements before video streaming, membership plans which include hiding advertisements and unlocking special features on the website, and monetary donations, either to specific streamers that people love to follow, or to the Twitch website in general. So, to simply put it, the more followers you have, the more money you can make, and if your content resonates well with the audience it’s up to them to donate to you.

Twitch celebrities, or profiles of significant following, can have a dedicated fan base in the millions. Take for example Twitch’s most popular streamer who goes by the name of Ninja (pictured below). Ninja has been a video game streamer for a while, but reached his peak fame once he began streaming the cult game Fortnite online. Ninja now has over 13 million followers on Twitch alone, not to mention his extremely popular Youtube and Instagram pages too. And his annual income? You’re looking at around US $10 million. Because of his fast earned popularity, Ninja has seen endorsements with companies like Redbull, Uber Eats and even record label Astralwerks.

Whilst not everyone can quit their day job and start up as an online streamer, there is definitely money to be made on the platform- and some of it for good! Often, large streamers will team up with one another or create audience specific content to raise money for charity. So far, Twitch as a platform has raised over $30 million for charitable causes.

So you’re probably wondering, how do brands and companies leverage from the success of video streaming?

  • Sponsorship. Watch any of the top trending Twitch videos and I guarantee you the streamer is wearing clothes from a sponsor, of there’s some very *obvious* cans of drink in the background. Ads can also be sponsored on the site.
  • Partnerships. When a brand is tech savvy and cottons onto an online influencer with the power to engage with millions, partnerships go a long way. Think promotion of items, appearances at special events or monetisation of streamed videos.
  • E-Sports. The growing world of e-sports and gaming is undergoing immense growth, with the industry value expected to hit $1.7 billion revenue in 2020. E-sport conventions and battles often pay big bucks to have a Twitch streamer appear to create hype, promote the event and generate revenue. If you haven’t looked into e-sports, have a read about the future of the biggest up and coming market in history.
  • Conferences. Twitch has recently started their own conference, TwitchCon, which has seen thousands of people attend jam packed arenas to meet and greet their favourite streamers, check out new games, interact with other games, watch live gaming and purchase merchandise. Of course, this also allows for other brands to jump on board and have a stall at the conference or sponsor certain elements of the event. Check out the video below to see some of the TwitchCon highlights from 2018… and note, they had to shut down some of the multiple day events due to the sheer number of people in attendance!

The power of Twitch is a force to be reckoned with. With such a dedicated audience who are prepared to pay money when it matters, Twitch is a viral celebration of the online gaming community that allows for a seamless user experience which connects people to their favourite online celebrities, in a way that is engaging and user friendly. Anyone is able to become a Twitch streamer, meaning that the community is always growing and changing, opening up opportunities for big brands and sponsors to jump on board. So, if you’re really interested in getting to know the Twitch service, head on over to the website and watch a stream for half an hour. Sure, it may not be your cup of tea, but it certainly is for the millions of users that log on each day and contribute money to the fastest growing, multi-million dollar platform in the world.