Twitch Head of Creative Talks About ‘The Joy of Painting’ Marathon Success

Twitch is best known for being the place where millions of viewers come to watch gamers stream popular games and live broadcasts of eSports tournaments while interacting through comments. At times, the service has been creatively adapted so that its comments system could be used to crowd-control video game characters.

However, a large part of the streaming community had nothing to do with gaming, and instead used the streaming service to broadcast the creative process behind artistic activities, like drawing or playing music. Twitch took notice, and partnered with Adobe to officially launch Twitch Creative, a category that’s dedicated to artistic channels.

To kick it off, Twitch ran a continuous 9-day broadcast marathon featuring all 31 seasons of The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross (who died of lymphoma in 1995). The series, which originally aired on PBS from 1983 to 1994, was seen by a new generation of viewers, on a medium that didn’t exist twenty years ago. Final stats for the marathon include 545,880,000 minutes watched by 5.6 million unique viewers. At its peak, there were over 183,000 concurrent viewers watching Bob Ross put paint to canvas.

The campaign ended up being such a success that Twitch will continue running single seasons of The Joy of Painting every Monday, with an all-episode marathon broadcasting every year on October 29, Bob Ross’ birthday.

[a]listdaily speaks to Bill Moorier, Head of Creative at Twitch, to discuss the successful launch of Twitch Creative and The Joy of Painting.

Bill Moorier

What led to the creation of Twitch Creative

The gaming community and the creative community on Twitch share many characteristics. We see the same passion, engagement, variety, experimentation, and growth that inspired us to create Twitch. Early on there were cross-over gamers doing creative work – things like Giant Waffle and Geers_Art. This became a movement all its own that deserved our support and is now getting it.

How did the idea of running a The Joy of Painting marathon come about

We knew we wanted to launch the official Creative category in October and I had noticed that was the same month as Bob Ross’ birthday. Before Twitch was even a concept, Bob Ross pioneered the entire idea of creating something in real-time. While showing his passion for painting, he would talk viewers through the process and interact with them as if they were in the studio with him. This is exactly the kind of thing we’re looking for with Twitch Creative. Because we wanted to honor his memory, we reached out to the rights holders of his catalog and they were happy to work with us.

Were you surprised at the community response to the marathon

Definitely. We knew many people had a soft spot for Bob Ross, but we never predicted it would become such a large cultural touchpoint both within our community and beyond it.

Do you think other Twitch Creative channels might see a similar kind of success

We currently have a lot of successful broadcasting Partners, but we tend to look at the Bob Ross marathon as more of event style programming. While we can’t comment on our roadmap, we expect to have more event-type success stories in the coming year.

How fast has the Twitch Creative community grown since its launch

We had roughly 1,000 broadcasters at launch attracting around 2 million unique visitors per month. As for how much that has grown since the Oct. 29 launch, we will save that for our next milestone announcement.

What would you say is the best reason to broadcast using Twitch Creative

The appeal of Twitch is its large passionate and supportive community with clearly defined categories to attract like-minded individuals.

Does the success of the marathon mean that we should expect paint, crafts, and music brands to advertise on Twitch

If these brands are trying to reach a large community of artists, many of which are hard to reach cord cutting Millennials, it is definitely something they should start thinking about.

Image courtesy of Twitch and Sohlol

Pinterest’s Ads Are More Effective Than Ever And Marketers Are Interested

With over 100 million users, Pinterest has grown into one of the more popular social channels out there, and it’s becoming a huge draw for marketers, especially since it launched a new ad program and a Discovery app system to draw viewers to the right areas. That program is working, as ad spending has picked up dramatically over the course of the year.

A recent report shed light the increasing interest surrounding Pinterest, a platform whose ad spend has quadrupled since January, growing to nearly eight times the spending rate. That’s good news for the site, which is bound to introduce more buyable pins as the holiday season comes closer.

Aaron Goldman, chief marketing officer for 4C Insights, is quoted as saying “Pinterest is really blowing up for brands. It’s the perfect social discovery engine. You’ve got consumers in buy-mode actively seeking inspiration with built-in sharing and network effects. Best of all, it’s still early days for Pinterest ads so there’s not a ton of competition and inventory is quite a bargain. Although I suspect that’ll change once everyone sees our stats and realizes they need to get in on the action.”

4C also provided the chart below to show just how much growth has improved over the last few months, starting out slow, but then seeing a major jump in June before jumping to its highest point in September, with 7.7 times the advertiser spending rate.

ResizedImage600453 Chart 111015

4C also noted that the platform is able to produce solid results from these ads, as clicks on Pinterest are up by nearly six and a half times since the start of the year, while re-pins of ads have increased five times. In addition, ad impressions have also grown by nearly 3.3 times over the course of the year, and click-through rate of ads has reached double value.

Some specific retailers have benefitted more than others. According to the report, online retailer Adore Me was able to boost Pinterest revenue by an estimated 4,000 percent, and reached new consumers. In addition, customers acquired on the site manage to spend more than 20 percent over time, compared to items purchased elsewhere.

Despite these positive results, the cost per click rate h as not risen by much, with an increase of 1.2 times this year, showing that Pinterest has not yet become a crowded ad platform. However, there’s still room for advertisers to grow with the site.

Part of this success is due to the new Discovery Engine, which enables certain content to be found via visual search. With it comes click-through rates and engagement, where advertisers truly see the benefits at hand. 4C believes that it’s more than enough reason for companies to jump on board.

“If you are still on the fence about Pinterest, jump in now before the true market saturation begins as click costs rise,” says the report. “You can take advantage of the opportunity to get clicks at a bargain before your competitors arrive en masse.”

pinterest advertising

This is good news for Pinterest, who has been ramping up their ‘discovery engine’ to become the destination for visual searches online. The U.S. search advertising market is worth $26.53 billion this year and is predicted to reach $29.24 billion in 2016. If they are able to crack this, Pinterest will be in an even better position to provide brands with search intent and interests.

Image source

YouNow: The Livestreaming Platform That Sees 100 Million Sessions a Month

Whether it’s browsing through trending tags and people, or chatting with your favorite broadcasters, one thing is for certain: YouNow is all about expressing yourself. The live-stream video chat app and website houses a litany of talented individuals consistently catering to young audiences. It’s a vibrant, real-time community. Paula Batson, vice president of public relations and communications for YouNow, joined [a]listdaily to discuss how they’re targeting millennial engagement the right way.

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It’s been just over four years since YouNow launched, and you’re already seeing 100 million user sessions a month. How did you reach this scale so quickly? How did you promote it? 

We launched in 2011, but the service took off in the summer of 2014 when we offered an improved mobile experience and adjusted some of the product’s social interaction features.

How is YouNow differentiating itself from the other live-streaming platforms out there? 

We’re a platform targeted at the youth, where the focus is on engagement. The product is gamified to increase user interaction. Seventy percent of our users interact with the broadcast. We’re also unique in that we have a built-in revenue model, where creators can earn.

What opportunities are there for brands to reach these audiences on YouNow?

Brands like Wendy’s and AriZona Beverages have contacted our broadcasters directly; we’re happy for talent to bring brands to their broadcasts.

For brands that are particularly interested in the streaming space, what should they know?

They should know that this social network reaches millions of teens and young millennials — an important audience for their brands and difficult to reach via traditional media. It’s also an incredible platform for activations, as on-screen promotions, promoted by the influencer, get double-digit click-throughs. Note that brands need to be authentic and true to the platform, if they’re to succeed.

How big of an impact will streaming have in video in 2016? How is it evolving, and where do you see this going? 

Streaming video is already huge. Real-time video enables social network interactions to be more immediate and tactile. Consumers are demanding it, and technology enables it. All the trends Wi-Fi everywhere, mobile usage, video, et al are moving to make live video feedback loops more powerful and bring more users into the live eco system, either as creators, viewers or social engagers.

Three Brand Lessons From Essena O’Neill’s Influencer Marketing Rant

When a well-known influencer questions the whole medium of social media, it often gives an industry pause. Longtime Instagram Influencer Essena O’Neill recently complained about social media and Influencer Marketing to her significant Instagram audience, even quitting all her social media accounts. She called social media fake and noted the many one-off endorsements she s been making as part of the content featured on her 600,000-follower Instagram account.

Does her admission and accusation mean anything for the world of Influencer Marketing and the 75 percent of brands now making use of this important promotional strategy In the end, brands can learn some valuable lessons about the relationship among brands, influencers, and the audiences they serve from this meltdown.

  1. Audiences Want Authentic Content  Audiences want to experience authentic and interesting content. While O Neill s audience engaged with her content regardless of whether or not they knew she was paid $500 to wear a certain dress, where the mask slips is when content being created shows too much attention on audience development. O Neill complained that being numbers-focused isn t real and she s right that this priority can kill the genuine feel of influencer content. In fact, her stunt has resonated far beyond O Neill s audience because the concerns she raised speak to the enormous pressure on influencers to build the right audiences and expand them to meet the needs of their promotional relationships. Brands need to be cautious about the level of pressure they put on influencers to grow audience because if they lose sight of what drew their fans and followers to their channel in the first place, the influencer and brand both lose when audiences look elsewhere for more authentic and substantial content.
  2. Social Media is Aspirational Followers and fans want to buy into the vision of O Neill s lifestyle and when products that suit her content are featured, it does not disrupt the experience. If she is producing pictures of herself at the beach, she needs to wear a bathing suit. Identifying the products she is using can actually help her followers connect with the lifestyle she is portraying because they can then purchase the items she is featuring and get some of the experience and connection they seek. Yet, if the choices are not genuine, audiences will reject the content being presented. O Neill breaking the 4th wall has led to alienating her fans who bought into her lifestyle and the world she created. That lack of trust can now likely spread to the brands she recommended to that audience, too.
  3. Brands Benefit from Regular Relationships O’Neill’s tirade was after many one-off promotional opportunities rather than a deep relationship with a brand that had built a strong connection with her personally and the persona she has developed. When a true relationship has been forged because the brand has identified that the influencer is truly a Brand Soulmate {link no longer active} whose interests and values connect with their purpose, there is far less of a chance that anyone involved will want to abandon ship (including the audience) because everyone understands the goals and how they are collaborating to achieve them. Furthermore, brands who invest in an influencer gain benefits from future campaigns where the influencer better understands how to organically include the brand s products (and goals) into their content without striking at the trust they’ve built with their audience.

While O’Neill’s comments were intended to strike at the promotional opportunities in Influencer Marketing, she s actually illuminated some reasons why the strategy is effective and reminded brands that they need to identify and effectively connect with influencers that best suit their brand needs. Brands need to understand that they run more risk if they just seek influencers with the largest social reach or greatest willingness to do as they request for short-term campaigns. Building a deeper relationship with ideal influencers that can integrate products into their content without compromising their authenticity will deliver brands much greater success.

Vertical Video Nabs More Screentime

Video and photography enthusiasts have argued over the use of vertical video, which looks natural when holding a mobile screen upright, but offers a very narrow field of view and doesn’t make full use of computer monitors and televisions. Not long ago, Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel pitched the idea of mobile advertising specifically geared for the vertical format, and other companies have been dabbling with it too. Now, it appears that it has finally taken off, and millennials could be following suit as a result.

Forbes, using numbers provided by Mary Meeker’s 2015 Internet Trends report, writes that vertical viewing has increased dramatically over the past five years among millennials, going from a lowly five percent in 2010 to 29 percent in 2015. A number of social media-based formats are starting to use it more regularly, including Snapchat and Twitter’s live-streaming Periscope.

ResizedImage600370 Chart

The chart above breaks down the time spent between horizontal viewing and vertical viewing across a number of devices, including mobile, desktop/laptop and television. As you can see, while horizontal screens still have a significant lead, vertical viewing has been catching up.

With popularity picking up across both formats, Snapchat has specifically tried to work on an advertising program that appeals more to the vertical demographic, as noted in Spiegel’s pitch. Since it has an audience of approximately 60 percent millennials, it’s easy to see how the format would appeal to them, with “vertical ads for vertical screens,” as the company has pitched to marketers

Snapchat also notes that vertical video ads have a completion rate that’s 9X better compared to horizontal mobile video, due to better interaction of ads and the way they format onto the display. They seem less cramped, even if they are narrower.

“More than ever before, marketers must focus on ways to engage millennials and ultimately differentiate themselves among the crowded digital space — in this case, how to present and optimize their digital content for vertical screens,” reads the article. “A slight adjustment in screen orientation for digital content can go a long way to increase engagement with millennials. Brands can no longer ignore vertical content and must begin integrating this new approach into their existing content strategy as a way to delight and engage millennials.”

Female Video Game Characters Are On The Rise

The female gaming audience has been on a steady rise, with better demographics in both mobile and console gaming. Marketers have also taken notice of the increasing demographic, and a recent survey by the Pew Research Center (via The Mary Sue) indicates that women now own more video game consoles than men. According to the data, 42 percent of women own consoles, compared to 37 percent of men.

PI 2015 10 29 device ownership 1 07

With that, we’re also seeing another shift in the female demographic, namely the number of video games featuring strong women in leading roles. For instance, tomorrow’s release of Rise of the Tomb Raider for Xbox One consoles will bring back the iconic Lara Croft, a treasure hunting explorer who isn’t afraid to fight against powerful adversaries. Square Enix’s Tomb Raider games have been best sellers over the years, and the newest addition is expected to do just as well, despite being exclusive to one console.

This is just the latest example of seeing a strong female presence in games, which not only relates well to female players, but also males. Other titles that feature the option of a playable female lead character include:

Fallout 4: releasing for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4, this long-awaited sequel lets players choose either a male or female character as they set out to explore a retro sci-fi themed post-apocalyptic world filled with dangerous human and mutant enemies.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II: now available for multiple consoles and PC. For the first time in the series, players can choose between male and female characters in the single player campaign. There are also a number of Specialists found in the multiplayer section that are female, who can hold their own among their male teammates.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate: available for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and releasing on PC later this month. We haven’t seen a female protagonist in this series since Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation released in 2012. Syndicate reaches forward by offering a choice between two main characters, the twins Jacob and Evie Frye, who must battle a vicious tyrant. Unlike many other games, choosing between the two characters impacts the style of play.

Star Wars: Battlefrontreleasing on November 17th for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, players can choose various female characters within this multiplayer romp, including iconic heroine, Princess Leia.

Having a strong female lead character has a better chance of appealing to female gamers, much like we’ve seen in past games like Nintendo’s Metroid series, which features a bounty hunter named Samus Aran.

The trend toward appealing to more female gamers is sure to continue into next year, with even more games featuring female leads. EA’s Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst will launch this May for consoles and PC, bringing back the free-running Faith. Battleborn, an upcoming multiplayer shooter, will have female heroes alongside male ones. Capcom’s Street Fighter V has a cast filled with strong women fighters.

Forbes recently posted an article detailing this rise in female game characters, stating that, “Female characters are severely underrepresented in gaming, but women make up 48 percent of the game buying audience. 48 percent. Just five years ago, that number was 40 percent. At this rate, female gamers will overtake male gamers within the next year. That being the case, there’s bound to be an outcry of identifiable characters for the new audience. There was major backlash when Ubisoft claimed it couldn’t animate female characters for the (Assassin’s Creed) Unity multiplayer aspect, due to the extra workload. Perhaps there’s some sort of message in the fact that instead of one lead, we’ve gotten two with Syndicate. Double the characters,” said author William Wilson.

It also made note of Amy Hennig, a figure who had worked for many years on the Uncharted series, as well as the Tomb Raider franchise. She’s currently working with the team at Visceral Games (Battlefield: Hardline) on a new unannounced Star Wars project.

The author concluded his piece saying, “In gaming, just like in life, women have to be serious to be taken serious. No one would have taken the game serious if Evie was the one with a funny comment and lackadaisical attitude. But everyone seems fine with the fact that Jacob Frye is that way. This mirrors the real world, where women are forced to take on more responsibility and have a more focused attitude towards work if anyone is going to take them seriously in their roles. It’s a sad reality we face, but it does exist. Though, for the time being, Evie and (Uncharted star) Elena are two strong examples of a new breed of strong protagonists. Women.”

Games featuring strong lead female characters have also proven to be quite marketable across all demographics. The new television ad for Rise of the Tomb Raider, seen below, is effective in appealing to both males and females alike, and Syndicate has featured an equal share of exposure for both Jacob and Evie Frye. This is sure to continue as 2016’s big gaming hits loom in the distance.

Taco Bell Embraces the Power of Delicious Emoji

3Emoji images have taken off with brands, whether through general expressions on Facebook or with brands linking specifically to images with hashtags, like #starwars on Twitter. Now Taco Bell has a new campaign that’s ready to change how people look at emoji forever — through tacos.

The company has announced a new social marketing blitz that introduces over 600 pieces of unique content for users to interact with. From there, content will go back to its revamped website, aptly named, according to AdWeek.

With the program, people can tweet a picture of a taco emoji with another attached picture on the brand’s account. By combining the two, they will receive back a customized image that matches something in the company’s program. For instance, if a user sends a tweet to @tacobell with a taco and a smiley face, they’ll get back a taco wearing sunglasses.

Additionally, the program will also tie in with special images via Instagram, which should appeal to both teen and millennial audiences. It also intends to introduce four new limited edition “taco holster” packages that revolve around its popular Doritos Locos tacos in Taco Bell locations across the United States.

Regarding the custom emojis, Marisa Thalberg, chief brand engagement officer for Taco Bell, stated, “They’re all means to be fun, almost collectible pieces. I think they’re going to be highlight Instagramable.”

The company hopes that its emojis will become part of the digital sticker section of the digital keyboard found on many smartphones, as it attempted last year with a petition that saw over 33,000 signatures. Unicode Consortium followed that with an official taco emoji released earlier this year.

“This is about the taco having its rightful place in the official emoji keyboard — this wasn’t about us doing a branded thing, this was about the taco itself,” said Thalberg. “We had our hopes raised and dashed a few times along the way, but ultimately Unicode came through, and it’s here.”

The Taco Bell program features a wild assortment of taco-based imagery for people to share with one another, and should see some form of engagement as 2015 comes to a close.

Taco Bell is already flying high on promotions for the year, having previously teamed up with Sony Computer Entertainment of America to offer limited edition PlayStation 4 consoles, featuring a gold trim and packed with a copy of the company’s biggest hit for the holiday season: Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection. That program was a huge success, backed by a solid TV campaign.

For the company, everything is certainly tacos and smileys.

Taco 2Taco

How ‘Beat Sports’ is a Big Win on Apple TV

The newest release of the Apple TV is a full featured, app enabled set-top entertainment device, meaning that in addition to running streaming applications like Netflix or HBO Go, it can play a variety of games designed for the big screen. Among those games is Beat Sports, which has become the most downloaded game since the Apple TV’s launch.

With its casual cartoon style, motion based controls, and musical backdrop, developed by Harmonix (famous for the Rock Band series), Beat Sports became a big Apple TV hit. In it, you play an assortment of sports-themed music and rhythm based mini-games to combat whimsical alien creatures. Players can swing virtual baseball bats, tennis rackets and golf clubs using the Apple TV’s remote control, iPhone or iPod Touch as game controllers.

[a]listdaily speaks to Beat Sports creative lead at Harmonix Jon Carter, and Tom Bass, senior vice president of marketing at Tilting Point (publisher of Beat Sports), about what it takes to succeed on the rising Apple TV entertainment device.


What makes the Apple TV an appealing platform to develop games for

Jon: It’s exciting to work on a new platform, especially one as unique and promising as this one. Apple makes it incredibly easy to distribute games on a global scale, and Apple TV is the first time that distribution network has been available to devs interested in crafting living room experiences. It’s a lot more than a gaming console, and because of that, it’s potentially a way to reach tons of people that, until now, have only been playing games on mobile — people that don’t even know how ready they are, as gamers, to graduate to the living room.

Harmonix already has a strong reputation as a console game developer. Does that reputation help when promoting an Apple TV game like Beat Sports

Jon: It’s definitely great to have a community that enjoys our games, regardless of platform. Hopefully, when people think of Harmonix, they think of fun, musical experiences that they can share with friends, and maybe even the fact that we’re good with new interfaces. Our past experiences with plastic peripherals and motion controls helped us find smart ways of channeling the unique affordances of the new remote into fun, intuitive gameplay.

That said, we do want to appeal to people that don’t regularly read gaming or tech blogs, who probably don’t know one game studio from another. Maybe they’ve played console games, but they’re probably much more familiar with mobile. So we’ve worked hard to give Beat Sports a fun and inviting charm that will (fingers crossed) appeal to you whether you’re a Harmonix fan or not.

In your opinion, how critical are games like Beat Sports to getting more people to adopt Apple TV

Jon: The App Store is such a powerful and enticing distribution network, that I think it’s safe to say there will be killer applications (beyond, obviously, streaming TV and movies). Games like Beat Sports, that are built from the ground up for the platform, could certainly be among them. I hope so. I’m excited to see more developers explore gameplay built specifically for the new remote, since there’s a lot of fun to be had there that couldn’t exist on any other device.

Tom Bass

How is promoting a game on the Apple TV different from advertising console or iPhone/iPad games

Tom: Marketing an Apple TV game shares more similarities with marketing a mobile game, with the added challenge of a limited installed base. At launch, we rely more on PR, influencers, and word of mouth, and shift the majority of our marketing spend toward the end of the year and into early 2016 when the audience for the hardware increases. By that point more avenues will open up to advertise within other Apple TV apps, directly to Apple TV users. Beat Sports will continue to be updated with content, so we want new Apple TV owners in December and January to experience the same enjoyment and discovery of the game that the early adopters did.

What are the benefits and challenges to promoting an all-new game designed specifically for Apple TV, as opposed to perhaps a Rock Band 4 port

Tom: Launching new IP at the launch of new hardware is ideal — there’s less competition and the opportunity to establish a brand to the early adopters. The challenge is sustaining that buzz beyond launch, which we’re doing by continuing to support the app with free content and updates, and reaching the new Apple TV owners through targeted advertising after we exit the launch period. While we don’t necessarily have the brand cachet of Rock Band, it’s less of a handicap at this stage in the hardware lifecycle than it would be two or three years from now.

How Activision Blizzard Is Going All-In on ESports

Activision Blizzard has been extremely busy these past few weeks. It held its Investor’s Day meeting today, just before opening of BlizzCon 2015, amid the launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops III, and is still fresh from the recent $5.9 billion purchase of King Digital Entertainment earlier this week. Not to mention the recent announcement of ex-ESPN CEO Steve Bornstein and Major League Gaming founder Mike Sepso will be leading the new Media Network Division for promoting eSports.

If there’s one thing to take away from the investor meeting, it’s that Activision Blizzard is one of the biggest entertainment giants in the video game industry, and eSports is the key to growing even further.

Gio Hunt, Executive Vice President of Corporate Operations at Blizzard Entertainment, spoke to how Blizzard has always been at the epicenter of the eSports phenomenon; which shouldn’t be surprising, considering how the StarCraft franchise pioneered eSports 15 years ago. The key to Blizzard’s success and rapid growth over the past five years has a lot to do with its dedication to quality, mass appeal and the accessibility of its games across multiple platforms such as PC, console, tablet and mobile phones.

Last April, Blizzard hosted a March-madness style event for called Heroes of the Dorm, featuring the free-to-play game Heroes of the Storm. Its live finals were televised on ESPN2, which marked the first time a collegiate eSport has ever been televised, and brought the world of eSports into the mainstream.

Now, between hit games like StarCraft II (which has a new game launching next week), Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, and next year’s competitive shooter Overwatch, Blizzard will offer more eSports than ever. Hearthstone in particular has brought has made eSport competitions to mobile. At BlizzCon, finalists from around the world are competing for cash prizes across various games, making it the single biggest Blizzard eSports event around. Add in offerings from the Activision side, like like the Call of Duty franchise, and it becomes clear why a new eSports division was created.

Steve Bornstein, the new Chairman of Activision Blizzard Media Network Division, will be helping Activision Blizzard “maintain its leading role in eSports.” eSports currently has over 100 million unique viewers, which is an audience that’s “larger than most major sports, and will grow to be bigger than all of them.” Conservative estimates indicate that eSports will grow to 300 million viewers by 2017, and bring in one billion in revenue by 2018.

“Stick and ball sports have decades of professionally produced content, and live events that attract millions of fans, and billions of dollars,” Bornstein notes. “Much money is being spent by sponsors and advertisers. They have players who have become heroes. All of this is ahead for eSports.”

Mike Sepso, Senior Vice President for the Media Network Division, adds that the goal is to “broaden reach, drive higher engagement, earn player investment, and make franchises stronger” by combining “the best of traditional sports and eSports to lead the eSports phenomenon into the mainstream.”

In the past 12 months, people spent almost 1.5 billion hours watching Activision Blizzard games streamed. The games themselves were played for 14 billion hours. Data shows that eSports spectators are more engaged, and will spend twice as much on peripherals, and 30 percent more on hardware and software than players that don’t watch. These huge audience numbers mean mainstream, traditional sports, sized opportunities.

However, Sepso also points out that, “while the size, energy and engagement of fans surpasses that of some of the biggest professional sports in the world, the level of earned investment has a long way to go.” The four U.S. sports leagues bring in $29 billion in revenue against 1.4 billion viewers, which comes to an average of $21 per viewer. In comparison, eSports viewership, with its 100 million viewers, generates $200 million, which comes out to $2 per person.

Activision Blizzard, with iconic franchises that engage 70 million users a month, is in the unique position to drive eSports into the mainstream. The Call of Duty franchise alone already has professional broadcast tools built-in so that audiences can see players around corners or behind walls, similar to how a viewer can see the yellow first down marker on an NFL broadcast.

Media Networks Division will focus on driving new audiences, explore new distribution channels, and strive to increase value to fans, partners and advertisers. It’s three pillar strategy is to:

  1. Create new premium, accessible, eSports content that celebrates players and increases the quality of content already being producing to reach a wide audience.
  2. Help organize the eSports ecosystem and the data that flows from competition using proven sports models that provide the most value to players fans and partners.
  3. Explore and expand distribution with current and new partners, while experimenting and innovating Activsion Blizzard’s own platforms.

Sepso concludes by stating how “eSports is becoming a cultural phenomenon. It looks like established sports, it has a passionate global fanbase.” Now Activision Blizzard has some of the most popular competitive games around, “and a leadership team in place to help lead the industry and company to a sustainable growth through eSports.”