Four years later and Discord has reached 250 million users

TL;DR - At only four years old, Discord is reporting it has hit, and cleared, 250 million users worldwide.  It was only a year ago that the communications platform revealed it had reached 130 million users, indicating this last year was a very strong growth year for Discord.  The team also shared that there are 850 million messages sent daily, equating to 25 billion messages sent every month. Discord’s team has grown to 165 employees as well, a 50% increase year over year.

Full story -

YouTube Gaming app permanently shuts down on May 30

TL;DR - YouTube officially integrated the gaming category into the main app about 8 months ago.  Just prior it had announced the YouTube Gaming app would be retired, but users would have plenty of time to adjust to the new setup.  That adjustment window comes to a close on May 30th, when the YTG app is officially kaput. Over the last few weeks, the app has been removed from official app stores, and existing subscriptions have been transferred to the main site/app.  Existing memberships will transfer over so users can continue to enjoy their perks.

Full story -

Unikrn brings crypto betting to Apex and Fortnite live streams

TL;DR - Unikrn, the esports gambling platform, rolled out crypto betting on Apex Legends and Fortnite streams on Twitch this week.  Unikrn will use machine vision to determine if the bets made by players were successful or if they failed, and then award (or not) accordingly.  Towards the end of 2017, the platform announced it would be taking in $40 million for a public token sale of its UnikoinGold. This is the currency with which its users will be wagering on Apex and Fortnite streams.  The site currently boasts about 100k approved bettors and close to 4 million visitors monthly. Viewers will be able to bet on things like if the player/streamer will win or lose, their survival time, and how many kills they can rack up.  Multiple bets per round will be allowed as well.

Full story -

Twitch teams with TuneMoji to bring musical GIFs to live streaming

TL;DR - TuneMoji allows users to pair up their favorite GIFs with music, creating an animated GIF with a musical background.  Using a new Twitch Extension, users can grab pre-made TuneMojis (of which there are 1.5M), and play them on a streamer’s overlay.  There’s currently no monetization option, but that’s in the works. Streamers can decide who can play TuneMoji in their streams, however.  To create new TuneMoji, users and viewers will need to download the separate TuneMoji app.

Full story -

Riot Games will create a new governing body for collegiate LoL

TL;DR - The NCAA has opted to remain hands off with collegiate League of Legends, leading Riot to take action on the formation of a new, stand-alone governing body for the league.  While this new entity will be a “separate division” within the company, it will be fully controlled by Riot Games. An external advisory board will also be created which will include collegiate sports and higher-ed experts to keep everything in check.

Full story -

NCAA passes on collegiate esports governance

TL;DR - The NCAA’s Board of Governors voted unanimously to table the question of whether it would govern collegiate esports.  The association brought in consultants to assist in rendering the decision, but ultimately decided to put it off for the time being.  This isn’t to count the NCAA out either. According to the report, it will continue to keep an eye on the developments of collegiate esports and has left the door open to active involvement.

Full story -

OWL viewership bounces back in stage two playoffs

TL;DR - We shared several weeks back that the Overwatch League was struggling to keep pace with viewership from the prior season, but this week’s stage two playoffs signaled a possible turnaround.  Measured in average minute audience (AMA), this round of the championships came in at 545,000. This puts stage two solidly 100k AMA ahead of the opening week of the league, but still behind the 607,000 of stage one.  However, the first and final matches were also broadcast on ABC, where they set a network record for the best performing esports broadcast. The league’s season one grand finals tallied an impressive AMA of 861,000 - so there’s a lot of road left to cover for season two.

Full story -

Magic Online viewership falters as MTG Arena takes off

TL;DR - The original MTG Online platform struggled last week, attracting a meager 10k viewers for its championship streams.  While it technically allows for more formats than the new MTG Arena version, it’s a dated application that’s seen little UI/UX attention since its debut in 2002.  The championship streams were visually unattractive but also plagued with audio issues for half of the broadcast. Meanwhile, as we’ve shared previously, MTG Arena has been giving Hearthstone steady competition for the top TCG on Twitch over the past couple of months, indicating there’s still hope for Wizards of the Coast’s TCG darling in the digital space.

Full story -

In case you missed it…

It hasn’t quite been a year since Twitch CEO Emmett Shear tasked his team to reach $1B in ad revenue, more than double what it was capturing at the time.  Everyone knew this meant major changes were coming, among which was Twitch revoking the ad-free component of Twitch Prime - a major reason claimed by many for subscribing in the first place.

While forcing nearly everyone to watch ads would, in theory, drive more ad revenue, it was clear that wouldn’t be enough to hit Shear’s lofty goal.  And here we are, closing in on the deadline, still unsure what else has changed or how close Twitch is to that big B.

Digiday recently interviewed Twitch’s head of revenue, Walker Jacobs, on how the company has changed and adapted since the announcement, and what viewers can expect in terms of the types of brands and ads they’ll be seeing as those Twitch Prime memberships renew.

While the interview doesn’t contain any major revelations, it does provide insight into how Twitch is viewing the current advertising environment and how it can leverage its unique and elusive audience in a way that feels right for all involved.  We’ve all seen ads play out very poorly on Twitch, whether they’re forced via the video player or whether there’s an attempt to natively incorporate them into streams themselves.

Personally I feel there’s loads of room for improvement for bringing better and more open-minded brands to the table that are willing to take some risks and experiment with the platform.  While I’ve seen my fair share of ad fails, I’ve seen some winners that have motivated me to check out products and services I may not have otherwise. So while it’s possible, the focus should always remain on the broadcaster and his/her audience.  The more closely Twitch and its team are able to match them with the right brands, in the right format, the sooner it can cross the finish line a winner.