Chess Streaming Wins the Pandemic

The New York times reports: “since the pandemic began, viewership of live chess games has soared. From March through August, people watched 41.2 million hours of chess on Twitch, four times as many hours as in the previous six months, according to the analytics website SullyGnome.”

Especially popular is Hiraku Nakamura, a top chess grandmaster known for his game-time banter and fan engagement. Nakamura, who gained nearly all of his half million Twitch followers since the pandemic began, is one of the first chess players to make an additional 6 figure income by joining a professional e-sports team.

A screen shot of Mr. Nakamura’s Twitch stream.

Why it’s hot: Somehow gamer interest has been re-directed from the hottest new games to one of the world’s oldest. This could create surprising new opportunities for brands as sponsors of a game that has the advantage of being very well known and strongly associated with intelligence.

Burger King angers Twitch streamers with stunt campaign

Burger King has been known for creating campaigns that tap into new technology to create PR, sometimes risking backlash (remember their tv spot that purposefully activated Google Home smart speaker in people’s homes?). Well, this time Burger King angered Twitch streamers by exploiting a donation feature that lets streamers collect donations from fans.

The donation feature in Twitch was designed to incentivize streamers to continue creating content that their audience appreciate by tipping them. The way it works is that a viewer can have a typed message read out aloud by a computer whenever they donate money to a streamer. In this case, Burger King targeted some of the most popular streamers and used a bot to donate $5 (a BK value meal) to have its message (unsolicited by both the streamer and the viewer) read out loud to everyone watching.

There’s been huge backlash and the campaign merely lasted a few hours on Twitch. Researches show gamers tend to be more open to advertising than the average person but not when done in such a scummy way that disrupts the experience to everyone involved and takes advantage of talent/influencers who have worked hard to build their audiences.

“Unlike other audiences, consumers in the video game arena are very discerning, protective and don’t appreciate marketing stunts that disrupt their experiences or minimize the work of their favorite streamers”

“Seeing a giant brand like Burger King coming into the space and marginalizing both the audience and the talent certainly doesn’t land well with the people they are trying to market to,” says Chris Erb, CEO of gaming-focused agency Tripleclix.

 

Sometimes, there’s a (not so) fine line between being a savvy and a scummy marketer. For brands to have success with these consumers they need to actually build relationships with gamers and their influencers, and not market to them.

Indie performing artists embracing Twitch amidst widespread tour cancellations

Due to COVID-19, Twitch, the streaming site popular with gamers is beginning to have a new constituency: Musicians. “50% of millennial males in America use Twitch. If you want to reach millennial males (which odds are, you do) Twitch is a good place to do it.” But now that musicians are using the platform more, Twitch may draw in more than just the male/18-34 demo.

From The Verge:

Mark Rebillet is part of a fast-growing community of musicians who are migrating to digital platforms to perform “quaranstreams” during the pandemic. Many larger artists, like Charli XCX, John Legend, and Diplo are choosing Instagram, but indie artists are overwhelmingly flocking to Twitch.

There’s one likely reason: while Instagram is an easy option to reach lots of people en masse, Twitch offers an abundance of ways to make money. “It’s more financially focused,” says musician and longtime Twitch streamer Ducky. “It supports different tiers of subscriptions and donations. People can subscribe to a channel for free with their Amazon Prime account. Fans can tip in micro amounts with things like Cheers. Other platforms usually just pay out on ad revenue or number of plays.”

Will the interactivity of live-streamed performances be enough to draw a crowd comparable to what an artist might draw on tour? It might not matter, because musicians have multiple revenue streams that are compatible with the Twitch platform. The vibe of a live show will never be captured via Twitch, but live-streaming shows may be a bigger part of the future of music due to covid.

Why it’s hot:

Artists might end up making more money

1) Because they can now reach a worldwide audience all at once, and eschew the high costs of touring, including the cuts venues and ticket vendors take on ticket sales.

2) Because of the ease of “tipping” on Twitch, audiences may end up paying their favorite artists more than they would for a ticket to a concert.

Musicians streaming on Twitch may offer brands a new way-in to the platform.

Aside from going the gamer route, brands may want to get in front of viewers watching a concert in real time. What kind of interesting interactive activation could brands do that would not undermine the musicians credibility?

Source: The Verge