There are more than a million broadcasters within the Twitch community, but that’s not to say it’s easy for them to upload gameplay.
Creators streaming from a PC need additional software in order to do so, and if they’re uploading from a previous generation console like Xbox 360 or PS3, they need a capture card – an external piece of hardware.
“It’s all very jerry-rigged. You have to be a real MacGyver to figure it out, ” jokes Matthew DiPietro (pictured), VP of marketing at Twitch – a live-streaming and on-demand video platform for gamers.
Such barriers haven’t prevented Twitch from growing exponentially since its launch in 2011, when it began as a breakaway division of Justin.tv after co-founder Emmett Shear, an avid gamer, saw a big opportunity in this community. Still, launching an Xbox One app on March 11 — the same day that Titanfall is set to be released — is a real game-changer for the video network that now has 45 million monthly unique viewers.
Developed in collaboration with Xbox, the app lets gamers broadcast gameplay simply by uttering the command: “Xbox, broadcast.” As part of this next-gen integration, creators can also interact with viewers, join multi-player games, or view other live Twitch streams. Last November, Twitch launched a broadcasting app on Sony’s Playstation 4 console.
“Getting broadcasting functionality direct to Twitch onto the next generation consoles is sort of steps eight and nine out of 10. We’ve almost accomplished a complete sweep of broadcasting functionality for gamers on every platform that they game from,” DiPietro says.
For the creators, the Xbox app provides another distribution opportunity and access to the 20 million households that have the gaming console.
Among the millions of broadcasters is an elite group of 5,100 partners, “who are our cream-of-the-crop content producers. They have the largest audience, the best content,” explains DiPietro. These gamers, who are sort of celebrities in the Twitch community, share the network’s advertising revenues and they also have the ability to sell subscriptions to their channels.
“More eyeballs means more ad impressions and a bigger community means more potential for subscription sales.”
The most successful producers are ones who upload content daily and have shtick, a unique take on what they’re producing, adds DiPietro.
Take, for instance, ManVsGame — not the best gamer, but a guy who’s on a quest to beat every game and whose personality comes through in his commentary. Or, FatherSonGaming, a 57-year-old who plays Call of Duty with his teenage son.
Some are e-sports competitive gaming specialists — professional gamers who have an extraordinarily high level of skill. “People will come to watch just to learn from them. Just like watching LeBron James,” DiPietro says.
“More eyeballs means more ad impressions and a bigger community means more potential for subscription sales,” he says. As a result, even more Twitch broadcasters could potentially quit their day jobs, collecting an even bigger paycheck from Twitch, some of whom already earn six figures.
A month after the Twitch PS4 app launch, 125,000 PS4 owners had signed onto Twitch, representing about 10% of their broadcaster base. By January, this figure grew to 20%. Timing the Xbox app launch with the Titanfall release is expected to boost those next-gen broadcasting numbers even higher.
But as Twitch’s relationship with the next-gen consoles solidifies, what is its next frontier?
“Mobile certainly has room to grow both in terms of broadcasting and viewing,” says DiPietro. “Handheld devices have some room to grow. Set-top boxes and smart televisions. Right now those are sort of the next next generation of what Twitch might become but for right now we’re just really excited about the console space.”