Live-streaming, esports, and gaming news highlights for the week of January 6, 2020
Twitch falls short of aggressive ad revenue goal in 2019
TL;DR - Twitch was reportedly tasked with hitting an ad revenue goal of $500 - 600M in 2019 but the latest report indicates the company fell far short. While Twitch rival YouTube is pulling in billions in ad revenue annually, Twitch managed to capture only $300M in 2019. A respectable sum by any measure, however it was only a few short years ago Twitch CEO Emmett Shear reportedly set a goal of $1B in ad revenue for his team. Clearly there’s a lot of ground left to cover. Twitch owns 73% of the streaming market currently, but that number has been very gradually eroding since 2018 as platforms like Mixer and Facebook Gaming have matured.
Hype Train launches on Twitch with aim to boost in-stream revenue
TL;DR - Twitch’s new Hype Train feature rewards viewers for hitting donation goals in streamers’ channels. Streamers can establish a threshold, and once enough subscriptions or donations come in to hit the goal over a certain amount of time, the Hype Train leaves the station and contributors are awarded with emotes. Subscriptions and donations of 100 Bits or more will count towards the train, and there are five levels of emotes with five levels each. The longer the train, the higher everyone climbs. Affiliates and Partners both are able to participate, and the feature is turned on now by default.
Facebook Gaming nearly triples its market share in 2019
TL;DR - The latest StreamElements and Arsenal.gg report shows, among other things, that 2019 was indeed a good year for Facebook Gaming. In December alone, the platform saw a 210% increase in hours watched versus the same month the prior year. Year-over-year it saw an increase from 3 to 9% of total market share in terms of hours watched. This is due in no small part to Facebook’s talent acquisitions this past quarter, but also because more Facebook users are now streaming on the platform. Another important metric, viewers per hour streamed, was up 78% - indicating more viewers are tuning in along with the boost in content being produced.
Nintendo confirms it’s taking a hard pass on esports
TL;DR - Nintendo has never been overly supportive of the esports scene that has developed around its games, and a recent statement from the company’s president confirms this won’t change anytime soon. Nintendo isn’t opposed to esports, but the statement clarifies the company will remain focused on developing games with a very broad appeal - the current formula to its success. The communities for games like Smash will continue to carry the burden of bolstering the esports scene until Nintendo’s stance changes.
Blizzard to expand Hearthstone esports in 2020 through ESL and DreamHack partnerships
TL;DR - Blizzard is further leveraging its ESL and DreamHack relationship to expand the Hearthstone Masters Tour to twice as many events. The Tour will go from three to six events, with each seeing a minimum prize pool of $250K. The organizers hinted that crowdfunding may play a part in expanding that number throughout the year. Hearthstone Grandmasters will return for two seasons this year as well, beginning in April and August, with an entirely new tournament structure.
Esports venue in the works at the Mall of Georgia
TL;DR - Allied Esports is leveraging its partnership with the Simon Property Group to bring a 13,000 square foot dedicated esports venue to the Mall of Georgia in Buford, GA. The event will host both amateur and professional events across a range of different titles and genres. Streaming and production value are a chief focus for the development as well, with equipment on hand for everyday customers to drop in. The venue is expected to open some time in the second half of this year. The two companies announced their partnership back in 2019 and even presented an amateur tournament they called The Simon Cup.
Blizzard teams with ESL and DreamHack to reignite Starcraft and Warcraft esports landscape
TL;DR - ESL, DreamHack, and Blizzard have joined forces on a new, three-year, ESL Pro Tour featuring Starcraft 2 and Warcraft 3: Reforged. The cumulative prize pool for the series is set at $4.6M, with Blizzard contributing $1.8M annually. As a result, the Starcraft 2 global finals will move from BlizzCon to IEM Katowice. ESL and DreamHack are reportedly working on a new tournament platform to support Warcraft 3: Reforged, with a goal of creating a deeper professional scene for the game.
Live-streaming platform Rheo successfully closes $2M seed round
TL;DR - Indian esports live-streaming platform Rheo was successful in closing its seed investment round, led by Lightspeed Ventures. Sequoia Capital also participated through its scale-up program called Surge. Rheo is currently only available on Android devices, and claims to have north of 5,000 streamers creating about 900 hours of content daily. Rheo users can also earn Rheo Coins through their activity on the platform - a form of in-app currency.
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