Twitch Is Diversifying: Why You Should Pay Attention
August 1, 2020

Industry AnalysisTwitch Is Diversifying: Why You Should Pay Attention

Live streaming social media platform Twitch, is diversifying beyond gaming. With it's highly engaged audience, it's becoming the go to video live streaming platform for music and sports- with some impressive partnerships.
Key takeaways


    • Covid-19 has fast tracked our adoption and reliance on video and live streaming content. Twitch offers the most reliable and engaging platform for it right now, and it’s not just for gamers
    • Twitch is diversifying. Music and sports are two of its most new and exciting verticals right now
    • Current music partnerships include record labels Anjunadeep, Anjunabeats and dance music forefathers Above & Beyond
    • Current sports partnerships include Premier League, NFL, NBA, and UFC and Formula 1 to date
    • There’s a huge opportunity for brands to work with Twitch. You just need to 1) Identify if your audience is already on Twitch or 2) Consider whether you want to invest in building a new home for your audience long term
    • Uber Eats is one of the first big brands to run an effective activation on Twitch


The rise of live streaming

You and I can both agree that technology, video and live stream have all become far more important and regular parts of our daily lives than we ever thought, thanks to this Covid-19 pandemic. Covid has certainly been a a catalyst for mass digital transformation, but video and live stream is something I want to hone in on.

About a year ago I was at Twitch HQ in San Francisco as they hosted an intimate gig in partnership with some of my favourite music producers from record label Anjunadeep. This seemed so random but my fiancé and I went together and had a blast at a casual office rave in Twitch’s café and lounge area, surrounded by Twitch staff and Anjunadeep fans, dancing in and around the old school games machines strewn around the place. It was only then that I truly realised the strength of the diverse use cases of the live streaming platform.

Twitch is so underrated in our industry. The only time it tends to come up in conversation is in relation to gaming. This is understandable given the high rate of usage and engagement. In Q1 of 2020 twitch accounted for 65% of streamed gaming hours- that’s 3.1B hours. For context, YouTube accounted for 1.1B hours of streamed gaming in Q1 of 2020. At any moment in time, there are allegedly 1.5M people tuned into Twitch and an average of 17M total users daily. How wild is that?

Beyond gaming

As I’m sure you’ve clocked, from my personal anecdote above, there is far more to Twitch than gaming.

Additional functionalities include “Just Chatting” where users host live streams that don’t involve any games at all.

Music and sports are the other alternative verticals for Twitch right now.

Twitch recently launched a standalone sports category and a collaboration with four major football clubs, and not just any football clubs – Arsenal, Real Madrid, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain. This partnership will result in exclusive content on the live-streaming platform. This will include behind the scenes footage, live youth and first-team friendly matches, as well as press conferences. This European focus is adding to existing US focused partnerships including the NBA, NFL and UFC.

Twitch has already started live streaming some free Premier League matches for the UK audience.

And back to my anecdotes, Twitch has become the best in class live music streaming channel – with both live and replays being streamed. While I’d personally only used it to occasionally play a live stream as background noise- during the Covid-19 lockdown (I’d never considered music live streams previously/they didn’t exist in the same way), I became an intensely engaged user (to my own surprise!) when the channel re-played the livestream of my favourite ever set by producer Ben Bohmer. Bohmer played the most magical (if you’re into dance music) set at Printworks back in December that I was lucky enough to see live. Twitch re-played the livestream earlier this summer and I found myself watching the stream and noticing how quickly the comments section started popping – people engaging with each other, reminiscing about the best sets we’d seen by Bohmer year, which tracks in the setlist to hold out for (Wall Of Strings- that he ended with!), and generally discussing how amazing the music was. With individauls able to @ each other and get into real conversations. The emotion and excitement resonating through the channel eclipses anything I’ve ever seen on Instagram. Not to mention Instagram’s glitchy, often slightly delayed, constantly pausing live functionality. From this regard, I would recommend Twitch for livestreams over Instagram or Facebook any day.

As Gareth Leeding from We Are Social states in his article for the The Drum

“What’s different about Twitch is the intimacy built between streamers and their audience. They are so much more likely to sit, watch, engage (and pay) for hours on end than any other platform. Streaming is all about community. And Twitch facilitates togetherness around passion points at a time when many people need connections more than ever.”
Know your audience – or build a community

That said, it’s crucial to consider who your target audience is. Are they the younger people who are already on the platform? Or would you benefit from the broad range of users already on Instagram and Facebook and the organic footfall they might give you if you livestream here? If you want to live stream regularly are you open to building a community from scratch? Twitch is often stereotyped under gaming- but in reality the dominant gaming audience are real people- who also love to eat, drink, watch sports and entertainment, just like you and me. Not a bad place for sports, music, food and drinks brands to communicate with their audience.

Brand activations

Dull banner ads aside, brands have the option to create some really exciting sponsored content on Twitch, although we aren’t yet seeing many big brands utilise this opportunity. Uber Eats worked with We Are Social to create a “Raid”. This meant that Uber Eats partnered with a high profile user who then “dropped in” to  another less popular user’s live stream. The high profile user then encouraged his following to follow and engage the less popular user- adding a huge level of engagement and excitement to a regular gaming stream that usually receives limited engagement. How sweet is that? You can watch the Uber Eats activation here.

There is also the concept of the Bounty Board on Twitch where brands can set targets for influencers to reach during activations – a nice option as it allows streamers to select bounties that feel authentic to them and their audience.

The future of Twitch and its wider potential

In a nutshell, you hopefully now know that Twitch is a reliable platform for brands in the music and sports industries. I’m so curious to see how else Twitch diversifies in the future- I’ve personally taken to a lot of exercise and beauty (e.g. facial lymph massages) on Instagram Live over lockdown, and live streams will continue to be part of my life when we reach the “new normal” as it just saves time! I would love to see more of these lifestyle focused streams move over to Twitch- the execution quality is so much higher and the experience is so much more personal.

I’m sold, and I can’t wait for you to be too. Let me know what you think of Twitch – I’d love to hear about your use cases or anecdotes 😊

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