Twitch is about to put the “watch” in Overwatch.
The popular livestreaming platform has formed an exclusive worldwide partnership with Blizzard that includes third-party livestreaming rights to select Blizzard esports content through 2018. In addition, Twitch Prime subscribers will receive special game content such as a guaranteed Legendary Loot Box item for Overwatch. Blizzard’s license deal with Twitch will grant exclusive, third-party livestreaming rights to over 20 major esports events across Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II and Overwatch.
Other social media sites have been hard at work building their esports presence and just last year, Blizzard partnered with Facebook Live to stream its game content directly onto user feeds. Blizzard could very easily stream its content across as many social channels as possible, but they chose Twitch for the two-year license deal.
Twitch COO Kevin Lin attributes this decision to his company’s biggest asset—community.
“The thing that has defined Twitch as a platform is the size of the community and the connections they have made with each other using our native emote-driven language in chat,” Lin told AListDaily. “This is because we focus on building entire communities around games, not just events. We also spend a lot of time listening to our community and they have been pretty vocal about their dismay when esports events are not on our platform. On top of the community, Twitch Prime is an element that is 100 percent unique to our platform and it is loaded with perks, including guaranteeing a Legendary item for Overwatch.”
An eyeball-bursting 262 billion minutes of video were watched on Twitch last year across 2.2 million unique streamers, with Overwatch coming in as the most viewed new game of 2016.
While known for its video games, the livestreaming site isn’t afraid to branch out into other genres, offering livestreams of TV shows and other content to highly engaged audiences.
Twitch earns 37 percent of gaming video content (GVC) revenue despite only having 16 percent of the viewers, according to SuperData, making it an attractive platform for Blizzard, esports leagues and marketers alike.
“Brands will be able to engage for longer periods of time around each league’s audience,” Lin explained, “and with Blizzard and Twitch working together more closely, there will be more interesting and deeper integrated marketing opportunities.”
According to research from IHS Markit, esports is expected to become a $1 billion advertising industry by 2021, with video driving a majority of revenues along with influencer marketing and sponsorship.
Esports was a major focus at E3 2017 with brands like Twitch, ESL and Nintendo hosting live competitions for the expo’s tens of thousands of guests. Microsoft was also on-hand to show off its Mixer livestreaming platform, hoping to get a piece of that delicious livestreaming pie.