September 14, 2018Published by: Alice Simpson

A Twitch in the matrix? How Amazon’s live streaming platform is renewing access to social audiences

Amazon’s monopolistic hold on retail has been hard to miss if you’ve been keeping one eye on the news this year. Traditional bricks and mortar brands have been shutting up shop across the UK while Amazon continues to turn a profit, snowballing commerce industries across music, food and books to name just a few.

The US tech conglomerate has only turned its hand to social media in (relatively) recent years however, through the development of its live streaming video game platform, Twitch. It’s a huge market that many of the social giants have since started to move into, but as the market becomes increasingly competitive Twitch has furiously fought off any challengers, helping it hold the top spot for game streaming views with over 935,000 in Q1 alone.  

And unlike some of its wider reaching competitors, Twitch also notably appeals to a younger, highly engaged audience. Every day, over 15 million users tune in to actively engage and interact with each other through eSports competitions, music broadcasts or a plethora of other live game play streams. The entire platform’s premise encourages interaction, while longer-established channels contend with fake profiles and false news.

It’s equally as brand-friendly too – the transparent advertising model means companies willing to invest can plan accordingly. A huge number of brands have taken to Twitch in 2018, including BuzzFeed News which swapped over from Facebook Live to approach a new audience “territory”.

And that’s just it – Twitch offers companies revenue-sharing deals for publishing in exchange for an audience that’s logged in and ready to engage. On the other hand, Facebook Live’s publisher numbers have decreased since it ended payment for live video production. Facebook also started the year with a major algorithm change, prioritising paid-for brand content in its newsfeed and minimising chances for organic engagement, which may have provoked BuzzFeed News’ change of heart.

Of course, Twitch hasn’t escaped its own teething problems. Businesses that have the funds are naturally increasing in-platform adverts, made apparent to Twitch’s users only recently when Amazon Prime removed its ad-free Twitch offering. The move sparked anger which Twitch users voiced on Reddit, predicting “nothing but negative feedback” following the update.   

There’s also its ongoing ‘Prom Queen’ battle with YouTube. Things are quickly getting nepotistic, as Amazon has already promised YouTube’s most popular creators a variety of exclusive live streaming deals. Successful converts have included Tanner Braungardt, who already has a four million-strong community on YouTube – 27 percent of Twitch’s daily viewers. Admissions from Twitch’s CEO, Emmett Shears, also indicate the platform’s ambitious strategy, with $1 billion+ ad targets to match.

So what’s next for the live streaming platform with a big budget and an even bigger mission? A careful balancing act, it would seem, between nurturing and expanding both its audience and brand support, without losing sight of its original selling point. If recent events are anything to go by, any drastic changes won’t be gratefully received by its long-standing fan base, but hitting the mark could mean following in the footsteps of its tech-titan parent company.

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