With the most popular esports titles such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends and Dota 2 clocking millions of hours on Twitch in just ONE MONTH how can we as fans know what’s really going on? Thankfully, we’re already watching streamers who have in just a few years become the stars of the esports world, comparable with the popularity of the leading players in the world.
Streamers: Branding Themselves As Experts Since The Early 2000s
Sports commenting started in the early 20th century in the US with the Pittsburgh Star’s Florent Gibson broadcasting the first sports commentary in April 1921. Since then, commentators have always been important as not only play-by-play commentators but also experts – analysts.
To enjoy complex esport games, especially fast ones such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive, fans need to be well versed in what’s not only going on their screen, but what has happened behind the scenes. The common practice of having an analyst. The common practice of having an analyst alongside the play-by-play commentator has trickled into esports, with teams of streamers working together to comment matches.
By commenting on matches with increasing knowledge of the teams, games and other details, streamers have branded themselves as the experts in the world of esports:
- They know the teams as well as the players. Unlike traditional sports, while esports stars are popular they still aren’t all as well-known as popular players in other sports which is why we require streamers to explain their skills and weaknesses;
- Thanks to the multitude of games out there in the market alongside the most popular esports titles such as League of Legends, we need hundreds of specialized streamers in order to follow matches in particular games. When you add the factor of international teams and local leagues, specific – specialized knowledge is even more valuable.
- They know complex games in-depth. While Minecraft might be interesting to most as entertainment, the skill needed to build in that world of play in popular esports titles Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (which was watched for 31.8 million hours on Twitch in just one month) and Leagues of Legends needs to be described in the right way. Streamers have in-depth of these games and can celebrate player’s skill.
Why Streamers Are Stars Of The Esports World
While some might think that players are the ultimate stars of the esport world, streamers are no less popular among the hundreds of thousands of fans of games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive or League of Legends.
Unlike traditional sports commentators that are tied to particular television stations or sports organizations, social networks and digital platforms have democratized the job of commenting esports. Anyone can be a streamer, you just need to have a YouTube, Twitch or – more recently – Facebook Live account.
These platforms have influenced commenting so much that it has spilled back into the “real” sports arena with Facebook’s head of global sports partnerships Dan Reed telling the Drum that Facebook Live has had “extraordinary success” in the US market. US Fox Sports and ESPN have actually begun using Facebook Live to supplement their sports coverage.
Streamers Are More (Social Media) Engaged Than Typical Sports Commentators
It’s not just the “live” segments of digital platforms and social networks that streamers have used to create large followings of hundreds of thousands, even millions of subscribers.
Unlike bloggers, vloggers and journalists, streamers are very engaged with their audiences outside of Twitch or YouTube, through Facebook pages, Instagram and especially Twitter. As content creators, streamers comparatively create far more content on social networks that aren’t just tied to streams, but are tied to gaming.
From photos with esports players on Instagram to “Twitter storms” discussing which team might win the latest tournament, streamers are more active on social networks than players – becoming a connection between them and the audience.
Streamers Need A Home(page) While They’re Off The Air
Unfortunately, while streamers do use almost A DOZEN platforms to communicate with their fans, no one place has proved their ultimate hub: It’s not Twitch, it’s not YouTube, it’s not Facebook. Unlike YouTubers, streamers (even those that are primarily on YouTube) don’t necessarily always think of Google’s platform as their first home.
Even more worryingly, they have no real control over their accounts on these platforms and some worry that their dependence on them could prove fatal. While Facebook might be boosting Facebook Live at the moment, we all know how much the media industry was hurt when Facebook changed its algorithm to limit the reach of Facebook pages. (LINK)Some streamers have found a solution: A website.
While most of them started YouTube or Twitch channels because of their ease-of-use, it’s not that they don’t know their way around digital platforms, among them website building tools and software such as WordPress.
As content creators, streamers have already solved the #1 issue that plagues most of us when we want to create a website: Having no content.
With dozens, maybe hundreds of videos and comments on different platforms, for streamers, a website ends ub being a way of putting it all together. The benefits that streamers have found with having their own homepages are:
- Having all their content in one place, thus making it easier for their fans and subscribers to find the latest and greatest content;
- Creating a unique identity that transcends a particular service with a unique, gaming-friendly domain such as .ME!
- Cross-promoting types of content; videos from YouTube and Twitch with photos from Instagram and a blog post analysis of a game – websites are still the best way to promote between a number of content types;
- Building their own “list” or database of subscribers and followers that is their own property and doesn’t depend on a 3rd party to reach, such in the cases of YouTube and Facebook.
- Additional content for other targets, such as partners, advertisers or fans that just want more content that can’t be published on YouTube even with their new Community feature we wrote about.
Creating a website that serves all of these goals might not be as easy as opening a Twitch account, but it isn’t either as complex as building the next YouTube. Don’t worry, now that we know that we need to brand as streamers we’ll tackle how to do in in the next article.