Could Twitch be the next branded content media platform?

Profile picture for user barb.mosher By Barb Mosher Zinck September 2, 2020
Summary:
Twitch has enormous traction in the gamer community - but is there something there for enterprise content producers? The merits of Twitch as a live streaming video platform are worth a closer look.

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I was listening to a podcast about the potential of the streaming platform Twitch as a brand storytelling platform. Sometimes when I hear about a platform, technology, or a strategy that's new or yet unproven, my instincts tell me there's something there. So I thought I would dig a little deeper into the idea. 

The podcast that started it all was Park Howell's Business of Story podcast, "Can Twitch Be a Brand Storytelling Platform for You?." Howell discusses Twitch with his two sons, both of which are involved with projects that stream on Twitch.

Their stories are game-focused: Caedon Howell has a World of WarCraft stream called CaedonTV, and Parker directed InstaQuest, the first XR Dungeons & Dragons live-stream, but the two offered insights and advice that have the potential to go beyond gaming. 

Influencer marketing with Twitch

I'd be surprised if you haven't heard of Twitch. It's Amazon's live-streaming platform, used primarily by gamers to live-stream their gameplay and interact with people viewing their live-stream. From a gaming perspective, the potential to reach for brands is enormous. According to Statistica, in 2019, there were 2.6 billion gamers worldwide.

An interview with Adam Harris, global head of brand partnership studio at Twitch on The Drum, noted there were 1.5 million people tuning in to Twitch at any given time, and around 4 million streamers a month in 2019. Seventy-three percent of the people on Twitch are between the ages of 16 and 34. The US makes up 23% of all traffic.

If you are a B2C company, the opportunities here are clear:

  • You can advertise
  • Leverage Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing holds the most opportunity. All you have to do is find the right gamer with the right audience and sponsor their live-stream, via stream branding, shout-outs, giveaways, product unboxing, and more. I saw one streamer with a message taped to his chair, saying, "your logo here." 

Of course, you need to be smart about how you approach influencer marketing on any platform, Twitch included. You want to connect with a gamer that has a loyal following and works on building relationships - they don't have to have the largest following, but it's essential their followers are positive and consistently show up. 

And it works. The other night my son asked me to buy him a specific type of earbuds recommended by one of his favorite gamers. (Note: I didn't do it).

But what if you used it directly? And not for gaming?

The real opportunity with Twitch

According to Harris, in the Drum interview, non-gaming content quadrupled over the past three years on Twitch, contributing 10 billion hours of streaming in 2019. Twitch categories, not gaming related, include IRL (in real life), just chatting, talk shows and podcasts, music and performance, always-on, creative, and science and technology. I've scanned the platform for this non-branded content, and it is there. 

Could you leverage Twitch's live-streaming capabilities as your next branded content platform? I think the potential is there: use Twitch to record your podcasts or video-based marketing shows. 

With Twitch, you have your main video, a webcam video, chat, and an information page about your channel. If you are doing a podcast, you may only use the main video. If you are doing a video show, you could leverage both the main video and webcam, alternating between the two as you record the show. You can also have guests, similar to doing a zoom or other webcast. 

Your live-stream can include a real-time Q&A with followers, but then followers can come back later and watch replays. You can live-stream on the go if you have the right tools on your phone (there are a few ways you can live-stream to Twitch).

And it's that engagement capability that has the potential for Twitch to become a popular option for podcasters and video shows who want to build a loyal audience. 

The question is, why Twitch? Why not have a YouTube channel or leverage LinkedIn Live? Both Twitch and YouTube provide live-streaming, but Twitch's ability to allow viewers to interact with the streamer is greater. There are also different levels of Twitch you can have, including basic live-streaming, affiliate, and partner. 

What's important to understand about these levels is that you can't have subscribers until you hit the affiliate level (people can follow you, but they can't subscribe to your channel). Affiliate and partner levels also support giving out badges, emotes, and earning ad revenue. In terms of a branded show, the higher levels are more about loyal fans and followers than about ad revenue or paying subscribers; however, it doesn't hurt to know you can earn some income from these efforts.

My take

Most brands in the B2C space understand the value of Twitch for influencer marketing. But I don't think either B2C or B2B brands are thinking about it for branded shows. There are plenty of options that are more "business" focused, like YouTube, LinkedIn Live, and other options that are not live-streamed but live-broadcast through Zoom and other webinar technologies.

I think the potential is there, and we may see Twitch showing up for branded shows in the near future. If Twitch wants to become a platform for more than live-streaming gaming and eSports (and it should because the competition in this area is starting to heat up), then we may begin to see them promoting non-gaming content more broadly and offering programs for B2B and B2C branded shows.