The rapidly rising growth of both streaming and eSports shows how they go together like peanut butter and jelly. Twitch’s rise to more than 100 million monthly viewers resulted in an acqusition by Amazon, and now Google has entered the fray with a specialized site for YouTube to capture some of this streaming magic. Twitch has expanded far beyond game streaming into music, videos and and even games played via Twitch. The core of the streaming explosion for gaming has always been eSports, though, and that’s where Azubu comes in. Azubu’s streaming video site is focused completely on eSports, and with the beta launch of its complete redesign, dubbed Azubu 3.0, it hopes to establish itself as a primary venue for watching eSports.

The Azubu 3.0 site promises to be an open platform with movable, resizable, and customizable modules that you can set up how you want. Azubu CEO Ian Sharpe spoke with [a]listdaily about the launch of Azubu 3.0 and how they hope to draw in more viewers.

The new interface for Azubu 3.0 looks like it’s made for customers to set up the site in a way that suits them. Was this redesign driven by what customers want?

There was an epiphany we had speaking to various people and our staff, around December of last year. We knew we could give the site a refresh, but we really wanted to do something innovative. One of the taglines we’re using is ‘eSports your way.’ When you look at the richness and the depth of the people who are involved in eSports, they all want to showcase themselves in many, very different ways, and we thought it was important to find a way to enable that. A couple of our guys had been doing this skunkworks project. While we were all scratching our heads about how we could take this personalization to the next level and have eSports your way, the engineers showed us the concept and there was a Eureka! moment. The more you think about the potential of these modules and how the community might use them, the possibilities become endless. We’re excited to put them in the hands of the community because I think they’ll surprise us with how they use them.

You’re giving people the tools to evolve the site in ways they want, and you’re developing in step with the community in a sense, aren’t you?

You’re quite right. I think the nugget here to dwell on is that clearly a streaming site is about broadcasters, about streamers who have an audience, and they’re going to create one kind of experience, and that projection of their persona is the mainstay of Twitch or Hitbox. What I think that the modules allow us to have is a way to engage people who love the eSports lifestyle but aren’t necessarily a broadcaster. Perhaps they’re a programmer or an artist. What this site gives them is the framework to engage with eSports without necessarily being a broadcaster. We want the many and varied people who comprise the community who love eSports to be able to participate as well. What modules represent is a step towards the democratization of eSports, involving all facets of the community.

Traditional sports took decades to grow mass audiences and develop sophisticated broadcasting techniques, but eSports has been growing over the course of a few years. Is the technology, both in broadcasting and in social media, helping fuel this rapid growth?

I had the honor and the pleasure of working at EA Sports for five years. While I didn’t deal with pro sports organizations directly, I did deal with them through colleagues in the marketing department. There was a reluctance or a timidity or a lack of understanding about what these technologies could do for that space. Oftentimes it was seen as a license as opposed as something that really embraces the crowd and engages your audience and keeps them loyal and thinking about your sport more than anything else. Technology is an enabler in this case. I think eSports have benefited from it, because people who are involved in eSports are almost intoxicated by the things that you can do to improve the experience. That’s what I love about Azubu and the staff that we have, they spend almost every waking moment just thinking about how they can enjoy eSports more, and enable the technology to do that.

Azubu 3.0 is showing a variety of different games. Do you that variety helps engage users, and is there a lot of crossover in interest between various games?

Undoubtedly. One of the reasons why we’re moving from invitation-only, working with professional gamers, to going open-platform and having a wide variety of games that people can stream is that there is an unquenchable interest for new games and new experiences. League of Legends is unique in having such a long life cycle for a video game — many more things ebb and flow, wax and wane. We’re going to constantly see new games, new approaches, new mods. All that we’re going to embrace, and that goes back to modules. If people have a new game they want to showcase, or a new game to launch, or an asset or a weapon pack they’ve made themselves, all of those things can be built into our ecosystem. We’re not just for the broadcaster. We can work with a publisher to create that strong link between the people who are broadcasting their game, highlighting the merits of the game and their passion for that game, with new content or breaking news about that game. The site is built as an ecosystem that people can populate to their advantage as they will.

What do you see in the next year for Azubu?

A sensible answer to that would be that I would love us to build upon the areas we’ve grown exponentially in traffic. We’ve traditionally been very strong in Korea because of KeSPA, and recently we’ve become very big in Brazil, building a very sizable audience there. We hope that regional success becomes a truly global success. I would hope for a sustainable global audience. I don’t think we need to be rivaling Twitch’s 100 million uniques, but I’d want us to be mentioned in the same breath as Twitch, in the same way that Coke and Pepsi are always mentioned alongside each other as perfectly viable contenders and alternatives.