Twitch – the future of interactive video?
“We’re building content for the interactivity of live video — that’s the future, engaging with viewers in ways that are not possible on live TV.”
It is not YouTube, or even Facebook Live, but a platform that until recently has been largely under the radar in the UK, especially for brands – Twitch.
Twitch is not a new disruption-hungry startup powered by VC money. Rather is is the bastard child of the service Justintv, which you may remember was a fleetingly popular video service that did much to popularise the concept of lifecasting.
Justintv is long gone, but the live video streaming service it spawned continues to this day, and some publishers and brands are starting to think it could be a very important platform in the future.
Although it has a comparatively low profile in the UK Twitch has amassed a huge global audience. It is the leading live streaming video service for video games in the US, and as of February 2018 could boast two million broadcasters monthly and 15 million daily active users. Part of its success too is that it is powered by one of key giants of the tech world, Amazon which acquired Twitch in 2014.
Twitch has been active in Europe for around four years, but it has only really been in the last 12 months that it has ramped up its commercial operations in the continent and apparently been rewarded with increased revenue.
One of the key reasons for its low profile is that it’s only really operating in niches. Its bread and butter consumers are gamers who upload live videos of their exploits complete with commentary. This then sparks interaction from their viewers and followers via the accompanying message board.
More recently the platform debuted IRL (In Real Life) which gives broadcasters the opportunity to share events that are happening around them in a similar way to say Facebook Live. A few years in from its launch and IRL is a bizarre channel – a mixture of teens experimenting with soft drugs through to live chats about Bitcoin. It is an odd space, but it clearly has potential. Away from the gaming there are also growing channels for music, live chat and food, but it is early days for these.
Twitch’s VP of sales for Europe Steve Ford recently told Marketing Week: “When I introduce Twitch to new advertisers, I tell them 10 years ago if I had told you the most enjoyable TV show would be one about watching other people watching TV shows, you would say I was bonkers. Yet here we are.
“Twitch can be the Gogglebox of live streaming. The fact we filmed an ad for Kellogg’s just for our platform shows how far we’ve come. We really believe the world’s half a billion gamers is a market we can realistically target.”
The Gogglebox elements inspired Buzzfeed which has so far run four live streams on the chanel, the latest being live footage of the royal wedding.
Some pundits have ascribed the new enthusiasm for Twitch as a reaction against Facebook. Media brands were courted by the platform for its Facebook Live opportunity. Now that is has stopped the incentives, coupled with an increasing scepticism about Facebook over its recent privacy and security issues, it has meant that companies are looking at other audiences.
Twitch does have a couple of key advantages over Facebook Live too. For the latter the content is placed in news feeds, with Twitch it is presented in an easy to find, searchable way more akin to YouTube. For Twitch too the live content is archived and can be watched at a later stage.
What it does not have yet though is the reach of Facebook and its ancillary companies. For now though Twitch is a platform to keep an eye on. If interacting with a young, tech-savvy highly engaged audience is on your priority list then you should explore further.