Shift of consumption habits from Pay-TV to online has led to many types of innovative content solutions in the market, one of which is live streaming. Twitch, an Amazon owned live streaming platform that allows users to live stream and broadcast games, and now music and entertainment to their audiences, who in turn can chat, comment and join the conversation, and its upcoming competitor Caffeine that also offers live broadcasting and streaming in similar categories will continue to see growth in the market because they are not competing for share in an existing market, but carving out their own space by introducing a new user experience of their own. While securing gamers might be easy for both platforms, I believe producing content for entertainment might not be as fruitful.
One of the things that stood out to me about these platforms is that they have a social interaction element at their core (businessinsider.com, 2015). In a way, one could say that Twitch and Caffeine have succeeded in doing with social interaction and content what Facebook could not; these are platforms where one can livestream content from their favorite creators, interact with them and engage with an entire community of viewers at the same time, all of these things are what Facebook offers its users as well, but in a very disorganized and fragmented fashion. Genres like gaming and sports thrive on the social element – people tend to enjoy these types of content more if they are able to gauge other people’s reactions to it. One of the reasons for its immense growth could have been the nature of online video gaming – each video game is a universe in itself, and there are different ways to navigate it and get to the top.
Gamers often have techniques, cheat codes, and their own perspective on how to play a particular game. A platform that allows gamers to talk about these tricks in detail to avid followers was bound to be successful. Additionally, in the content market, these live streaming platforms have carved out their own space between Pay-TV and OTT viewing. While Pay-TV is too broad for gen Z (the target audience for livestreaming platforms) and OTT is too exclusive, live streaming sits right in the middle of the two – it is both exclusive and broad, and lets you engage with the content you are watching at the same time.
While gaming and sports livestreaming is a proven success, it is difficult to be as optimistic about whether this model would work for entertainment content as well. Other popular types of live streams on Twitch and Caffeine are live podcasts, where people talk about a variety of topics related to music, food and drinks. Because of Twitch being owned by Amazon, it also has a prime option integrated in its interface and when clicked on it, a user can join “watch parties” a new feature that Twitch is testing (theverge.com, 2019), that basically allows you to binge watch together. Although it has sparked interest, it is unclear if it will work in the long run because sometimes when it comes to scripted fictional content, all viewers need is an immersive experience that OTT platforms like Netflix and Hulu already provide. Social interaction while streaming such content could be a distraction for many.
However, non-scripted reality Live TV could thrive on these platforms, as it captures some of the same elements that gaming does – social interaction, new perspectives and competition.
Livestreaming surely has immense potential, but only for specific genres, and capitalizing on those would lead to long term growth. Additionally, content for gamers isn’t available on any other traditional platforms and therefore, the focus should be to bring that type of content on this platform that isn’t anywhere else.
I don’t think that livestreaming platforms could become the TV of the internet, simply because not all types of content are the right fit for this format and people might have different preferences for how they want to consume them.