Facebook Launches Gaming Creator Program Aimed At Twitch, YouTube

TNL Take: To get some insight into how Facebook and Mark Zuckerburg view competition, read this fantastic article on their war with Google over Google Plus. My favorite part is when he addresses his Facebook army and quotes Roman senator Cato the Elder:

“You know, one of my favorite Roman orators ended every speech with the phrase 'Carthago delenda est.‘ Carthage must be destroyed.’ For some reason I think of that now"

When Facebook sees an opportunity or threat, they maximize their vast audience and resources to counter. Case in point - when was the last time you used Google Plus?

Coming right after their exclusive distribution deal with ESL, Facebook has now launched a Gaming Creator program. The program provides creators the following:

  • Helping gaming creators build more engaged communities

  • Increasing discovery and distribution across multiple surfaces, including Facebook.com, Instagram and Oculus. The last one is key as only Facebook currently has VR hardware in house

  • Supporting gaming creators with the types of tools needed for optimal streaming

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If all that sounds very familiar it should be as those features and more have been available to Twitch and YouTube streamers for a while. One additional feature that will be slowly rolled out after its December soft launch is tipping - which now allows for a $3M minimum to be given to creators. While the revenue share was not revealed, previously Facebook has taken anywhere from 30% - 45%.

This move also comes on the announcement that Facebook would overhaul its News Feed to focus on mutual connections vs. news or brand updates. Gaming streams would likely be "stickier" that seeing random videos in your feed. You can also envision a future where  Facebook Watch plays into this and monetization (ie: Video Ads) occurs.

 

While there was plenty of outcry over ESL's exclusive deal with Facebook, this is just the beginning for Zuck and Co. to make more inroads into live streaming and esports.

Facebook's Exclusive ESL Deal Is About Media Rights

TNL Take: Going back to June 2016, we've said the biggest threat to Twitch in live esports was Facebook instead of YouTube. We even analyzed Youtube and Twitch directly stating the formers dominance in all things VOD.

Since Facebook entered the esports space, they've done a slew of content deals including:

That's plenty of inroads over the past 18 months.

Now Facebook is stepping it up further with another exclusive partnership with ESL - this time bringing content that previously lived on YouTube. The partnership includes:

  • ESL One and CS:GO Pro League, which begins in February and an exclusive for 4 seasons till December 2019
  • The first event will be ESL One Genting 2018 that begins this week
  • Other events include ESL One Katowice 2018 and ESL One Cologne 2018 
  • ESL will also produce a weekly show for "Facebook Watch"

 

Let's be clear, this deal is primarily about 1 thing: Minimum Guarantee for broadcast rights that Facebook would pay ESL. While probably nowhere close to BAMTech/Riot Games ($40M+/year) or the reported Overwatch League figure ($45M/year), it's enough that would warrant any drop in viewership or ad revenue. Facebook even recently announced the hiring of Eurosport head Peter Hutton to spearhead their sports rights initiative.

 

What else can Facebook bring to the table that helps ESL?

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/01 SCALE: Facebook hit 2 Billion monthly users by the end of Q2 2017. Over half of those users are daily. Which also leads to...

/02 MOBILE: 85% of Facebook's revenues comes from Mobile. As the rest of the world comes online, this is how they're going to access content - not via a PC or console. 

/03 MONETIZATION: Ads, Donations, Subscriptions, Virtual Currency, Sponsorships, Influencer Campaigns - the list goes on.

/04 VR: As VR eventually gathers more audience and others are trying to build VR platforms on top of Twitch or create separate ones, Facebook already has the hardware end with Oculus. From both playing and viewing, the experience potential is endless.

/05 Facebook Watch: Facebook is clearly trying to get as much content for Facebook Watch as possible. Now Facebook Watch allows you to view together with your friends - the social glue that allows engagement with your followers vs. a firehose of viewers,

 

While the viewership numbers may not be Twitch/YouTube levels at the beginning, there is more to this deal than viewership.

Esports Performing Well On Twitter

TNL Take: It's been over 18 months since we predicted Twitter entering the esports space. Since then Twitter made a large push with ESL, Dreamhack and Intel Extreme Masters in March of last year.

How did they perform?

Very well actually according to data released by Twitter. Of the Top 10 live streamed events in 2017, 3 of them were esports related and considering the Top 2 were related to the US and UK elections; they could have ranked higher. With how much live streamed content Twitter broadcast, 3 in the Top 10 is impressive.

2017 Top Twitter Live Video Events (Photo: Twitter)

2017 Top Twitter Live Video Events (Photo: Twitter)

Twitter also quietly signed a deal last September with Riot Games to become Twitter Australia’s partner with League of Legends.  

The partnership saw 2 live streams for League of Origin and the Oceanic Premier League Grand Finals, as well as 10 live broadcasts via Periscope Producer. 

Why does esports work well on Twitter?

As expected, esports skews younger which works well with Twitter's audience consumption of sports events. Twitter has done deals with everyone from the NFL, MLB to the PGA and NASCAR.

The esports audience - from teams, pros to the viewers - use Twitter extensively. One of the biggest audience drivers to Twitch comes from Twitter; it's why you see those promoting a Twitch stream is live primarily use Twitter as their current social platform of choice.

For myself, Twitter chat is also an "easier" experience than Twitch chat. Based on the algorithm, I see tweets first from those I follow/follow me and those in my social graph. As the chat is built around tweets, it makes it easier to follow the conversation than a firehose of emotes. 

Laura Froelich, Twitter's Global Head of Sports Partnerships, told SportTechie a key stat last month: The Halo world championship was livestreamed on Twitter, Facebook and Twitch; with a total audience of 13 million - of which 10.2 million came from Twitter. 

Some further stats would provide greater insight but there's a clearly appetite for esports content on Twitter's platform.

What does 2018 have in store for Twitter?

Considering how much of Twitter's audience overlaps with esports, coupled with last year's live video performance, expect more partnerships for this year. While the majority of Twitter's esports broadcasts have not been exclusive to the platform - you may see one in 2018.

esports Week In Review | League of Legends Viewership, Tencent and NBA 2K League Brand Innovation

ESPORTS WEEK IN REVIEW | LEAGUE OF LEGENDS VIEWERSHIP, TENCENT AND NBA 2K LEAGUE BRAND INNOVATION

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TNL Take: This week we took a deeper look into the 2017 League of Legends World Championship Viewership numbers, how NBA 2K League sponsors can innovate and Tencent briefly bigger than Facebook and what's next for the gaming giant.

 

MONDAY 11/27

How Many Viewers Watched The League Of Legends 2017 Championship? Not 60M

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Have a great weekend!