Frontline Marketing

Twitch Builds Live Chess Ecosystem To Attract Sponsors

Chess piece wearing gaming headset and chess board

By | November 8, 2017 |

Twitch continues to diversify its viewing options—and by extension, marketing opportunities—by sponsoring Chess.com‘s entire lineup of live chess events. Twitch has been the broadcast partner for Chess.com’s regular chess programs and major events like the Speed Chess Championship and Pro Chess League. As an official sponsor, Twitch is committing to increase viewership of the sport now, and into the future.

The multi-year partnership between Chess.com and Twitch announced Wednesday is designed to attract additional fans, players and sponsorships for online chess. According to Twitch, the union will help develop an ecosystem of live chess content for users in both communities. The pact will also include monetization opportunities for chess players.

What do chess and video games have in common? Quite a lot, actually. Both practices require concentration and skill, can be picked up at any age, gender or athletic ability and oh, yeah—sponsors pay major moolah to support the world’s best players.

Ryan Chaply, senior esports program manager for Twitch, told AListDaily that teaming up with Chess.com creates more meaningful ways for brands to engage with chess events, players and viewers alike.

“From a content perspective, chess encompasses an entire spectrum of livestreaming experiences, from the relaxing backdrop of a friendly conversation to the tense back and forth of a speed chess match between Grandmasters,” said Chaply. “The inherent engagement available to broadcasters on Twitch has sparked innovation throughout the community.”

It just so happens that some of the world’s best players are already streaming chess on Twitch, including World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Last year, a Chess.com Blitz Battle on Twitch between Grandmasters Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura set records with nearly 200,000 unique viewers. The live match peaked at the No. 3 spot on Twitch’s ranking of live concurrent viewers.

The worldwide chess industry is growing at a CAGR of 2.5 percent, according to forecasts by Ken Research. The analyst firm says that sponsorships and competitive playing have driven a “perfect money-making business” that exceeds most other board games. Creating a prominent livestream ecosystem for chess players could help raise awareness for the game community and industry as a whole.

Chaply explained that the strategies being employed for this activation can be applied to other games and brands.

“In addition to premier competitive events, we’re actively focusing on the growth of content creators, professional players and grassroots communities,” he said. “ By providing value across both Twitch and Chess.com, broadcasters have more opportunities to be discovered and connect with their audience . . . We’ve also seen other content categories grow following tailored promotional efforts. For example, when we recently did a series of promotions around fitness streamers, after every spotlight we suddenly saw a new wave of people broadcasting fitness content. We also had a lot of success with Rocket League when promoting individual pros after tournaments.”

Inspired by positive Twitch audience reactions to televised content, digital network CONtv just launched its own 24/7 channel on the site. The new channel will livestream pop culture-driven films and TV shows such as Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, 21 Jump Street and Little Shop of Horrors, along with original programming.

Known for its gaming livestreams, Twitch boasts 15 million daily active users that watch videos live and on-demand while interacting with the community. Over the years, Twitch has introduced non-gaming content such as TV marathons, wrestling and anime, each with positive results.