Can a Video game get higher ratings than the Super Bowl?
This may soon become a reality. Countries like Korea and Japan have already been featuring video game tournaments as entertainment, with people regularly flocking to physical venues, televisions and their computers to watch the world’s top gamers play live. It only makes sense that watching video games as a spectator sport would make it across the Pacific.
Taking the lead in America is Twitch, a videogame start up from the people at Justin.TV, which seems to have figured out a way to bridge that gap. Being called the YouTube for video games, users can log in and watch people play, making it similar to watching live basketball, baseball, football or soccer on television. Top gamers will also be paid to record their gameplay and post it on the site. However, unlike YouTube, the videos run on Twitch’s own platform, rather than a third-party site, so that it is targeted directly towards the hardcore gamer. As videogames are becoming bigger than movies and television, it only makes sense that live sporting events would be the next event industry in which to compete.
Will It Work?
Twitch began a year ago and already claims to have 20 million viewers who tune in every month to watch different channels, ranging from actual video game play with commentators to people discussing huge games like World of Warcraft, Diablo III and Borderlands 2. According to All Things D, another 15 million dollars was recently raised primarily through Bessemer Venture Partners, which will go to hiring more engineers so Twitch can continue building out its platform and improving it’s overall quality. So far, it seems to be working and growing, just as the videogame industry has grown rapidly over the past few decades.
How Does Twitch Make Money?
Twitch makes revenue in a number of different ways. Similar to live sports on television, Twitch runs advertising in between programs or game play. It also has tried the subscription model, where users can pay a monthly fee without seeing any advertising. According to TechCrunch.com, they also just reached a partnership deal with CBS Interactive to sell Twitch’s video ad inventoryRight now, Twitch is the hottest company in this space, but others like the Los Angeles-based Machinima rack up millions of views in this space, along with YouTube and Facebook. As video game fans are drawn to watching live game play online, more and more of these successful gamer channels will undoubtedly appear.
Where Twitch Goes From Here
Beyond improving it’s platform and overall quality, Twitch will broaden into allowing gamers to both broadcast and tune into games directly from their gaming consoles. Considering they have led the charge in streaming live gaming to the vast internet community, Twitch’s future looks as bright as anyone’s in the online broadcast industry.